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2.j^7y. JZ.n 

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Copyright 1907 


Published, September, 1908 

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Prologue . 8 

I A Village Dorcas-Meeting ..... 24 

II Miss Fallowfield 45 

III Duncan and Somers 60 

IV Miss Fallowfield's Little Dinner . . 79 
V The New Vicar - . . 97 

VI Love's Young Dream 105 

VII Love's Later Dream 120 

VIII The Green-Eyed Monster .... 137 

IX Many Waters 154 

X The Comments of Dingle wood . ... 167 

XI This Disposition of the Property . . 182 

XII The Designs of the Claimants .... 196 

XIII The Decision of the Court . . . .213 

XIV The Monastery 227 

XV The Exercise of Patronage . . . .239 

XVI OcTAVius Rainbrow 259 

XVII The Verdict of the Jury 270 

XVIII Last Wills and Testaments .... 291 

XIX Restitution 311 

XX Concerning Miss Tovey 825 

XXI A Fresh Development 343 

XXII Out of the Depths .... >: ;. . 356 

XXIII The Conclusion op the Matter .' . . 868 

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On a summer's afternoon, when the world was soma 
thirty years younger than It is at present, two girls; 
were sitting at tea in a small lodging-house situated in* 
an obscure watering-place on the Welsh coast. The 
room in which they sat was typical of its time and place* 
It was on the ground floor, and formed part of what 
was termed by its owner " the dining-room set," which, 
suite consisted of the said sitting-room and two small 
bedrooms at the top of the house. True, there was a- 
bedroom upon the same floor which, to the lay eye, ap- 
peared to belong by right to the dining-room ; but this? 
was an amateurish way of looking at things, as anyone 
acquainted with the mysteries of seaside lodgings will 
at once perceive. It is a fixed rule with all lodging- 
house keepers that the bedroom attached to the dining- 
room invariably belongs to the ** drawing-room set,*'' 
and, like all other great laws of nature, must be 
respected and obeyed, even though its why and where^ 
fore remain hidden in obscurity. 

This room revelled in the distinction of commanding' 
what is called a sea-view; that is to say, it did indeed 
face the direction in which the ocean lay, but as it was 
upon a somewhat lower level than the road, a sight of 

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the horizon-line was only vouchsafed to such occupants 
as were tall enough to look over the sloping grass in 
front of the house and the hedge of tamarisk which 
formed the boundary of the estate ; and even tall people 
could only attain this glimpse by standing close to the 
window upon the tips of their toes. 

The interior of the room was dreary in the extreme. 
The paper — ^a dull red — ^had been still further darkened 
by some years' exposure to a persistently smoking 
chimney ; the carpet was perforated by holes which were 
apt to trip up the unwary, and which were but partially 
concealed by mats composed of heterogeneous morsels, 
the original shade and pattern of the carpet being lost 
in dust and antiquity. The furniture was of that kind 
which had once obviously been covered with horsehair ; 
but the horsehair had long been worn out and replaced 
by a material known as American cloth, which is so 
slippery in cold weather than one finds it difficult to 
remain seated, and so adhesive in hot weather that one 
finds it equally difficult to rise. In addition to the 
chairs used for sitting at meat, there was one (so- 
called) easy chair and a sofa; but both these articles 
of furniture had succumbed to a disease which attacks 
hardly-worn furniture — a disease which transforms the 
springs into sinews of iron, strong to resist the advances 
of all those who wish to sit down thereon. 

The chimney-piece was adorned with an ormolu 
clock (out of which the internals had been removed), 
flanked on one side by an insufficiently attired china 
shepherdess, and on the other by a bust of John Wesley. 
Above it hung a tarnished mirror, which was veiled by 

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a profusion of trailing ivy-leaves cut out of green tissue 
paper of varying shades. According to the landlady, 
these ivy-leaves were intended to catch the flies, but how 
flies could be caught by a substance that neither at- 
tracted nor retained, she did not trouble to expound. 
The fireplace itself was filled with a weird object, some- 
what resembling a huge chignon of very coarse grey 
hair, sparsely sprinkled with threads of gold and silver 

The only other ornaments in the room were two pic- 
tures setting forth respectively the Battle of Arma- 
geddon and the Last Judgment — ^inspiring subjects 
cheerfully portrayed! The former represented a 
cluster of white-winged, fair-haired young ladies lean- 
ing over a battlement and hurling forked lightning at 
a host of armed and mounted warriors beneath ; and the 
latter depicted a mountain (suffering apparently from 
a recent shock of earthquake), clothed on all sides by 
an extensive cemetery, and crowned with a bevy of 
white-winged beings similar to those who were throw- 
ing the lightning about in the other picture. The 
earthquake, which had opened a large fissure at the foot 
of the mountain, had also very much disturbed the ceme- 
tery, tossing the tombstones about as if they were spilli- 
kins, and evicting the occupants on all sides. A few of 
the more fortunate of these were being guided up the 
mountain by a deputation of fair-haired young ladies 
from the top ; but by far the greater part — including a 
sprinkling of crowned heads, foremost among whom was 
his Holiness the Pope — ^were being hustled pell-mell into 
the abyss by an official armed with a pitchfork. 

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The two inhabitants of this most unbeautiful " din- 
ing-room set" were both young and good-looking. 
The elder, a girl of about two- or three-and-twenty, was 
tall and dark, with aquiline features and a fine figure, 
and would have been extremely handsome had not her 
face shown unmistakable signs of defiance and dissatis- 
faction. The younger sister was fair, and bore decided 
resemblance to those sweet beings in the pictures who 
hurled the lightning and crowned the mountain tops. 
Her countenance was smooth and unlined, testifying to 
one of those happy dispositions which in all circum- 
stances have learnt to be content. 

" Oh, Phoebe, Fm sick to death of being poor ! " It 
was the elder girl who spoke. 

"Never mind, Charlotte darling; there are worse 
things than being poor.*' 

"Are there? Well, Fm thankful to say T\e never 
come across them.'' 

"Oh, but there are," the fair-haired girl persisted. 
** It would be far worse for us if we were ill or ugly or 
old maids." 

" No, it wouldn't ; nothing could be worse for us than 
our present condition. What is the use of our good 
looks if we can never dress ourselves properly? What 
is the use of our health if it is to be wasted upon 
drudgery? What is the use of our youth if we are 
never to get any pleasure out of it? I tell you that 
poverty is a curse which throws a blight upon every- 
thing it touches." 

Phoebe shook her head. " I don't agree with you at 
all, Charlotte. Bad dressing matters far less to pretty 

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people than to plain ones ; hard work is much easier for 
strong folks than for weakly ones; and if your youth 
has brought you a lover, I don't see that it has alto- 
gether been wasted.'* 

** And what is the good of a lover if he will never be 
able to afford to marry you? " asked Charlotte some- 
what brutally. 

** Lots and lots of good. There's all the fun of the 
love-making, besides the credit of having got a young 
man of one's own ; and, besides, we shall afford to marry 
some day — everybody does sooner or later." 

^* Not people as poor as we are." 

** Oh, dear, yes ! " retorted the optimistic PhcBbe. 
'* People quite as poor as we are getting married every 

** And a nice time they have of it afterwards," was the 
grim rejoinder. 

**They worry along right enough, don't you fear. 
I can't think why you make such a fuss about our being 
poor. It is rather horrid, I admit, but it would be far 
harder if we were old and ugly." 

** It will make us old and ugly before our time. Poor 
people always age far sooner than rich ones." 

Phoebe shook her pretty head. ** Not if they've the 
right sort of complexions. It is your skin far more 
than your pocket that makes you look old or young; 
and you and I have both very good skins." 

** The worry of making both ends meet is fast scoring 
lines into mine." 

** Then you shouldn't worry so much. I wouldn't get 
wrinkles into my face for anything." And PhcBbe rose 

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from the table and peeped at herself in the mirror 
through the overhanging tracery of ivy-leaves, sighing 
softly with satisfaction at what she saw therein. 

Charlotte and PhcBbe Fallowfield were the children of 
a retired officer, who had no private means, and whose 
pension naturally did not survive him. Their mother 
died while they were yet in their infancy; and since 
their father's death, some few years before this story 
opens, they had been entirely dependent upon their own 
exertions for a living. Charlotte was a teacher in a 
girls' school, and Phoebe a nursery governess in a coun- 
try clergyman's family. The former was engaged to 
be married to Herbert Wilson, a clerk in an accountant's 
office ; and the latter to Derek Silverthome, the happy- 
go-lucky Irish curate of her employer. But the chance 
of either of these engagements being brought to a satis- 
factory conclusion was very remote indeed, owing to 
the total lack of means on the part of everybody con- 

These two girls were representatives of a class which 
merits our profoundest sympathy. Bom of well-bred 
parents, they possessed all the sensitiveness and refine- 
ment of gentle-people, and yet were debarred by the 
exigencies of their position from indulging in any of 
the pursuits and delights which gentle-people love. Fur- 
ther, this very sensitiveness and refinement unfitted them 
for that battle for existence which they were doomed 
to fight ; and rendered them specially susceptible to the 
wounds of those slings and arrows which outrageous 
Fortune had seen fit to hurl at their innocent heads. 
They were now enjoying their hardly-earned summer 

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hoKday in such a health resort as their very limited 
means could command. Fhoebe, as usual, made the best 
of things; but Charlotte's artistic susceptibilities were 
hurt to the quick by the ugliness and squalor of her 

"By the way, Charlotte, have you been and said a 
prayer at Saint Winifred's shrine yet?" asked the 
younger sister, after she had duly contemplated her own 
charms in the ivy-mantled looking-glass. 

"Saint Winifred's shrine! What is that! Tve 
never even heard of it.'* 

" That's just like you ! You never hear of anything. 
That comes of being so stuck-up. You should talk to 
people as I do, and make friends, and you'd hear no 
end of interesting things." 

Charlotte's lip curled scornfully. " Who would care 
to make friends of such paupers as we are? " 

" Lots and lots of people. As I've told you hundreds 
and hundreds of times, money isn't everything. If only 
you are pretty, people will like you, however poor you 
may be." 

" Well, I'm not pretty, as it happens. You are.'* 

Phoebe looked at her elder sister critically. "Not 
exactly pretty, perhaps, but decidedly handsome; and 
I'm not sure whether in the long run handsomeness 
doesn't wear better than prettiness. It doesn't fade so 
soon. I'm sure I often envy you the dignified expres- 
sion of your nose. There's a sort of Boadicean, 
Roman-eagle look about it which is distinctly impres- 
sive, and which will go on impressing after my flower- 
like charms have faded into pot-pourri." 

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'" Never mind my nose ; tell me about Saint Winifred's 

^^ It is a little shrine on the mountain, quite a long 
way up, dedicated to Saint Winifred, who was a Welsh 
lady herself, you know. By the way, I wonder if she 
wore a tall beaver hat instead of a halo. It would have 
been rather sweet and patriotic of her if she did." 

"But what about her shrine? Is there anything 
particular to distinguish it that you are 80 anxious for 
me to visit the sacred spot?'* 

** The legend is that if anyone climbs up the moim- 
tain and prays for something at that shrine with their 
whole heart, that prayer will be granted. The villagers 
about here go up sometimes and pray for things even 
now; but hundreds of years ago it was quite a cele- 
brated place, and grand people came from all over the 
country to offer up their petitions. Kings and queens 
have been there in their day, and have always had their 
prayers granted." 

Charlotte's dark eyes grew dreamy. "I wonder if 
it is still true, or if the shrine has lost its power? If I 
thought it were, I would go up and pray for riches; 
And I am sure I would pray with my whole heart." 

^*Well, I don't mind telling you that I've been," 
said PhcBbe, waxing confidential. " I went and prayed 
that Derek and I should soon be able to get married. 
I thought I'd leave no stone unturned that might 
Jielp us," she added naively, and with no thought of 

When tea was over, and Phoebe had gone down to 
the beach to play with the children of their fellow- 

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lodgers, Charlotte set her stem young face to ascend 
the mountain. Her sister's story about the old shrine 
had seized hold of her imagination, and she was bent 
upon trying for herself if it still possessed its mirac- 
ulous power. Though naturally reserved, she was 
inwardly exceedingly sensitive to impressions, and any- 
thing connected with the unusual or the supernatural 
had a strong fascination for her. In happier circum- 
stances, where her powers could have had full scope and 
developed themselves, she would have displayed marked 
artistic gifts ; but as it was, her whole energy was bent 
upon the absorbing if uninteresting struggle to earn 
that daily bread which is absolutely necessary to mere 

It was an evening in complete harmony with Char- 
lotte's expedition. Heavy clouds loomed up from the 
west, chasing each other across the heavens like a pro- 
cession of war chariots, while below them the sun was 
slowly sinking to his rest " in a bed of daffodil sky." 
The sea was disturbed and unrestful, crooning to itself 
its old, old song in a voice hoarse with the sorrow of the 
ages, and murmuring its hushed though everlasting 
defiance against that irresistible decree which has said, 
" Thus far shalt thou come and no further, and here 
shall thy proud waves be stayed." 

With a firm yet light step the girl ascended th^ 
steep mountain path which led to the little shrine. On 
and on she sped, all her thoughts bent on her errand, 
until she was suddenly brought to a full stop, in turn- 
ing a comer, by coming face to face with a very old 
clergyman leaning upon a stick. He was tall and 

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thin and evidently of great age; his white hair fell in 
silvery locks upon his shoulders, but his complexion and 
expression were as pure as those of a little child. 

Charlotte drew her slight figure up against the face 
of the rock in order to allow the venerable stranger 
room to pass her on the narrow path ; but he made no 
sign of so doing. On the contrary, he remained stand- 
ing, looking at the girl with a tender smile which was 
in itself a benediction, while he said, in the most musical 
voice she had ever heard: 

** Whither away so fast, my daughter? '* 

There was no impertinence in the question, it was so 
gentle, so fatherly. It seemed as if he had the right 
to ask ; and Charlotte felt constrained to answer : 

^ To Saint Winifred's shrme.'* 

^ I thought as much ; and, if I read your face aright, 
my child, you are going there out of no idle curiosity, 
but with an earnest desire to test the efiicacy of the 
shrine and the truth of the old legend.*' 

**Yes, that is so,*' replied Charlotte simply. Her 
customary reserve melted like snow in the sunshine of 
the old clergyman's smile. Then an equally unusual 
impulse to appeal to him for help seized her, and she 
asked, " Do you believe it is true? " 

" I have lived here for the greater part of a century, 
my child, and I have known many, many prayers an- 
swered that were offered up at Saint Winifred's shrine. 
It may be that there is still some strange efficacy in 
the little mountain altar; or it may be — and this I 
think is the true reading — that those who come to this 
shrine pray in such faith that it is done unto them 

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even as they wish, since faith is the lever that never 
fails to move Almighty Power. 'According to your 
faith so be it unto you,' is the limit which Omnipotence 
chooses to make unto Itself.'* 

** Then you think if I pray for one particular thing 
at the shrine, believing I shall get it, my prayer really 
will be answered? " asked Charlotte, her dark eyes ablaze 
with excitement. 

'^ I do ; and, because I think so, I would first have 
a word with you before you offer up your prayer," 
replied the old man, seating himself upon a huge boulder 
that lay hy the path, and motioning to Charlotte to 
do the same. 

She obeyed him without hesitation. There was that 
in his face which compelled the reverence and submission 
of all with whom he was brought into contact. 

" I was bom in this very neighbourhood some ninety 
years ago," he began, after they both were seated, " and 
I have spent the greater part of my life here, and many 
are the supplications which I have known to be offered 
up at Saint Winifred's shrine. Some of the suppliants 
have come back to thank God for having heard and 
answered their prayers; and some have come back to 
beseech the Lord to take away from them the very thing 
for which they once so earnestly entreated Him." 

"Then they didn't really know what they wanted 
when first they prayed ! " exclaimed Charlotte. 

"Yes, my child, I think they did. They only did 
not know what God wanted for them, and they set their 
own wills before His. And so He gave them up to their 
hearts' lust, and sent leanness into their souls withal." 

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" But surely we ought to pray for what we want, ** 
argued the girl. 

** Certainly ; but only if it is in accordance with the 
Will of God that we shall have it.'* 

** And if it isn't in accordance with His Will? " 

" Then we should pray that His Will may overrule 
ours, and that we may find profit by losing of our 

Charlotte shivered slightly, though the evening was 
warm. " I couldn't pray like that. If I want a thing 
I do want it, whether it is good for me or whether it 
isn't ; and if it isn't good for me, I am prepared to take 
the consequences." 

** I see, I see ; many are like that. [And sometimes 
God is prepared to let them take the consequences, and 
so learn wisdom. But this is not the most excellent way 
of learning." 

" It is a better way than not getting the thing you 
want, and spending the rest of your life in kicking 
against the pricks. I would far rather be unhappy in 
my own way than happy in anyone else's." 

The old clergyman smiled. " You are very young, 
my child." 

**I am twenty-three." 

"And I am ninety-three. Seventy years makes all 
the difference in one's perspective." 

"And I want so dreadfully the thing that I do' 

** So did I when I was your age ; and I prayed with 
all my heart for it at Saint Winifred's shrine ; but I also 
prayed that Grod's Will should overrule mine." 

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" And what happened? " 

** Twenty years later I went back to the shrine and 

thanked Grod upon my bended knees that He had denied 
my request." 

Again Charlotte shivered. " Twenty yeavs was a 
long time." 

** Not long as compared with ninety, and still shorter 
as compared with eternity," replied the old clergyman, 
rising from his seat. 

Charlotte rose also. **I think I would just as soon 
never learn a lesson at all as take twenty years to 
learn it," she persisted. 

" So I thought when I was twenty-three, my daugh- 
ter ; but I have since learnt otherwise." 

" And- 1 am so sure that what I want is the very 
thing that will make me good as well as happy that I 
can ask for it with no reservation whatsoever." 

*^ I was just as sure seventy years ago." The 
stranger could be as obstinate as Charlotte. ** Grood- 
bye, my child," he continued, making way for her to 
pass him on the narrow path; "go forward to offer 
up your petition, and may God be with you ! But re- 
member that if we set our hearts too much upon any- 
thing — ^if we make up our minds that we will have it 
whether it is in accordance with the Divine Will or 
not — ^we are sometimes taught wisdom by the bitter 
experience of having our prayers answered at all costs. 
Sometimes — I speak with all reverence — it seems to me 
as if God stood aside and allowed us to have our own 
way, because we have used the great gift of free-will 
by preferring it to His. And now good-night." 

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And without another word the venerable stranger 
went on his way down the mountain. 

Charlotte also pursued her errand, undaunted by the 
old man's warning. 

" I am sure," she argued with herself, " that poverty 
is not only spoiling my life and destroying my chance 
of happiness, it is also eating into my character and 
making me bitter and ill-tempered and morbid. If I 
were freed from the constant strain of pecuniary anx- 
iety, I believe I could develop into a good as well as 
a clever woman. The three great duties of life are to 
serve God, to perfect ourselves, and to help our fellow- 
creatures; and poverty makes all three impossible. 
How can one have time to serve God properly if one 
is compelled to toil from morning to night to earn 
one's daily bread? How can one perfect one's own 
character if one is being constantly jarred and fretted 
by the sordid and squalid worries which invariably follow 
in poverty's train? And how can one help one's fellow- 
creatures if one is too poor even to help one's self? I am 
sure that wealth is the best as well as the happiest thing 
for me, and I shall pray for it with all my heart, and 
cheerfully take the consequence of its disabilities — ^if 
any disabilities there be." 

So the girl communed with her own soul until the 
path she was following came to an end at a small shrine 
high up on the mountain, a lonely and impressive spot. 
On the one side of the path a steep precipice went down 
sheer into the sea, and on the other the black rock rose 
straight up skywards; and in this rock was carved a 
little niche holding a roughly hewn image of the patron 

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saint of the shrine. In front of the image was a small 
stone altar, and below that a large stone, worn flat by 
the knees of the thousands who, in bygone ages, had 
offered up their petitions at the wayside altar ; while by 
its side a pellucid spring bubbled up out of the rock 
and dashed itself over the precipice in a shower of 
silvery spray. 

On the flat stone, where so many thousands before 
her had prayed and had not prayed in vain, Charlotte 
Pallowfield fell upon her knees and besought the God 
Who had made her for the one gift which He had de- 
nied — the gift of worldly possessions. She prayed as 
she had never prayed before, for the atmosphere of the 
place lent itself to the spirit of supplication, and gave 
the impression of being in close touch with the Unseen, 
Far away from the haunts of men, with no sign of 
human habitation in sight, and with the impenetrable 
sky above it and the unfathomable sea below, it seemed 
cut off from all the habitable parts of the earth — such 
a spot as that where Moses stood when he hid in the 
cleft of the rock while the glory of the Lord passed by. 

There are many voices in Nature for those that have 
ears to hear them, and they all call us to different 

The voice of the forest is the voice of love. Have 
we not all heard the whispering of the woodland which 
lures us deeper and deeper into the hidden places, with 
hinted promises that we shall there at last find our 
heart's desire? As children we have all felt the fas- 
cination of those fairy-tales which told of enchanted 
castles and spell-bound palaces hidden away in the heart 

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of a wood; and we have all entered into the spirit of 
the fairy-prince who fought his way through briar and 
tangle and thorn and thicket t31 at last he discovered 
the sleeping beauty who awaited him there. And even 
children of a later growth feel the spirit of that fairy- 
prince still stealing over them when they stand in the 
midst of a forest on a summer's day. Then suddenly 
all the stories of chivalry and romance become possible* 
Forest lovers may be found resting under any bush, 
gentle knights may be seen pricking across any glade. 
Every tree whispers to us its secret magic, every grassy 
path beckons us to follow it until we find our beloved 
awaiting us in a banqueting house whereof the beams 
are of cedar and the rafters of fir. Every pilgrim of 
life at some time or other passes through Arcady, every- 
one's path goes by way of the forest of Arden; and 
even though we may have travelled a long way since 
then, and our feet be weary and our faces worn, Arden 
and Arcady come back to us once more when we stand 
on a summer's day in the heart of a wood. 

The voice of the sea is the voice of sorrow — the 
sorrow of unsatisfied longing, for the sea is never at 
rest and content ; the sorrow of rebellion, for its break- 
ers are forever hurling themselves in vain against that 
unseen yet immutable barrier which they may not pass 
over ; and the sorrow of mortality, for its doom is fixed, 
and it is written that in the new heaven and the new 
earth there shall be no more sea. Like its own mer- 
maids, who grieve because they have no souls and there- 
fore are not immortal, the sea is forever bemoaning its 
finality. It may rage against the children of men when 

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they occupy their business in great waters ; it may carry 
them up to heaven and down again to the deep till their 
souls melt away because of their trouble; it may dash 
them to pieces against the rocks and hide their bodies 
in its caves, where there is no man to bury them ; yet it 
knows that in their essence they are greater than itself, 
and that its conquest over them is only for a time. For 
when their corruption shall have put on incorruption 
and their mortality shall have put on immortality, the 
the sea shall be compelled to give up its dead, and — 
like death itself — shall at last be swallowed up in 

And the voice of the mountains is the voice of prayer^ 
Over against each other stand the everlasting hills — 
crag above crag, peak beyond peak, thus forming " the 
world's great altar stairs, which slope through dark- 
ness up to God.'* And some of God's greatest revela- 
tions to man have been made upon a mountain. It 
was upon a mountain that Elijah stood at the mouth 
of a cave and wrapped his face in his mantle at the 
sound of the still, small voice ; it was upon a mountain 
that the favoured Apostles were eye-witnesses of the 
majesty of their Master, and received the message from 
the excellent Glory; and it was upon a mountain that 
the men in white apparel heralded the second coming 
of Christ to the waiting disciples. Which teaches us 
that, in accordance with the great doctrine of free-will, 
man must do his part, feeble though it be, in going 
forth to meet his God. The Almighty may stoop from 
heaven to visit the sons of men; but they also must 
do what they can to rise from earth and meet Him as 

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He comes. Unless they stretch out the hands of faith 
towards Him, unless they climb the altar stairs that 
lead to His sanctuary, they will never see the glory of 
the Lord. Those in the valley may tremble before the 
sound of the tempest and the earthquake and the fire ; 
but it is only those who have scaled the mountain that 
hear the whisper of the still, small voice.' 

The spirit of the mountain fell upon Charlotte Fal- 
lowfield, and she lifted up her prayer with her whole 
heart. But to her supplication she added no petition 
that her will might be overruled by the Divine Will, or 
her wishes be made submissive to the guidance of Al- 
mighty Wisdom. She merely begged for her own will 
and her own way, and she took no account of any other. 

When she came down again from the mountain the 
evening shadows were closing in, and she found Fhcebe 
sitting alone in the firelight. 

** How late you are ! *' exclaimed the latter ; " I was 
beginning to think you were lost, stolen, or strayed. 
There is a letter for you from Herbert by the last 

Charlotte took her letter, which was propped up 
against the bust of John Wesley, and then proceeded 
to light the gas in order to read it. The gas — as is 
the way of gas in lodging-houses — ^flared up like a 
gasping volcano and then settled down into semi-dark- 
ness, knowing no middle course between setting the 
house on fire and giving no light at all; and in the 
flickering twilight, which was the lesser of these two 
evils, Charlotte read her love-letter. 

** Would you believe it," she cried when she had 

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finished. ^^ Bertie is on his way to America by this 

"To America! What for? What a fmmy place 
for a person like Bertie to go to, who is generally 
afraid of venturing as far as Clapham Junction for 
fear of catching cold." Poor Herbert's delicate health 
was always a subject of scorn on the part of the youth- 
ful and vigorous Phoebe. 

Charlotte's eyes were bright and her cheeks burn- 
ing with excitement. ** Don't you remember that 
Bertie had an Uncle Josiah who went to America 
years ago, and then disappeared?" 

**I do recall something of the kind now that you 
mention it. But I never asked any questions about the 
matter, as I think it generally kinder not to do so about 
relations who disappear." 

"Well, he had had a letter from this uncle saying 
that he is very ill and would like to see Bertie before 
he dies, and sending him the money to defray all his 
travelling expenses. So Bertie has started for America 
at once." 

"Wonderful pluck on Bertie's part! I hope he 
remembered to take a warm coat with him to keep out 
the cold." 

" Phoebe, don't be horrid. Bertie can't help having 
a delicate chest." 

** But he can help coddling it as much as he does. I 
never knew such a man for taking care of himself. 
Derek and I think it is perfectly ridiculous," 

"Derek and you are strong people," argued Char- 
lotte, doing battle for the lover whom she adored all 

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the more because he leaned upon her and looked up 
to her, resting his weakness upon her strength* ** I 
wonder if his uncle is a rich man? " she added. 

" Not he ; uncles never are, or, at any rate, if they 
are, they leave it all to charity. It's a pretty little 
way they have.'' 

Charlotte took no notice of her sister's gibes. She 
was thinking of the little shrine upon the mountain side, 
and the prayer she had offered up before it. " I won- 
der if he is," she repeated softly to herself; and she 
went to bed and fell asleep still wondering. 

For over a fortnight nothing happened to disturb 
the monotony of the little Welsh village by the sea. 
Then great excitement broke the peace. A letter came 
from Herbert saying that he had arrived at his uncle's, 
and had found the latter in a dying condition, though 
quite conscious and delighted to see his nephew; and 
the epistle went on to state — ^much to Phoebe's scorn- 
ful amusement — that the writer had contracted a slight 
cold during the voyage, and was nursing it. 

"Trust Herbert for catching a cold and making 
the most of it, wherever he may be!" she exclaimed, 
greatly to her elder sister's annoyance. 

The next mail brought a still more thrilling com- 
munication. Herbert wrote that the old man had died, 
leaving the whole of his fortune to his nephew. Her- 
bert did not yet know the exact amount, but the lawyers 
assured him that it was something considerable. He 
went on to say that he had naturally a good deal of 
business to attend to, but that shortly he hoped to 
return to England and marry Charlotte off-hand, as 

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now that he was a rich man there was nothing to wait 
for. His cough, he added, was still troublesome; but 
now that he could afford to take care of his health and 
to go to a warm climate when necessary, he felt sure 
that his chest would soon be quite strong and well 
again. And he was full of plans for spending the next 
winter with Charlotte in Italy, and there deriving much 
benefit for their minds as well as their bodies. 

Then, for the first time in her life, Charlotte Fallow- 
field was really happy; and she went up to the little 
mountain shrine and there fell again upon her knees, 
and thanked God for having given her her heart's 

A week afterwards Charlotte received another letter 
from America ; but this time it was not from Herbert, 
but was in a strange handwriting. It ran as follows : 

** Madam: It is with sincere regret that we have to 
inform you of the death of Mr. Herbert Wilson, the 
nephew and sole legatee of our late client, Mr. Josiah 
Wilson. Mr. Herbert Wilson succumbed last night to 
the effects of a chill contracted upon his voyage from 
England, which settled upon his lungs. He was con- 
scious to the end, and made a will bequeathing the whole 
of the large fortune, just inherited from his late uncle, 
to you. The amount of the fortune is, in rough num- 
bers, a million pounds sterling. Awaiting your further 
instructions, we have the honour to remain, madam, 
" Your obedient servants, 


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** Well, for my part, I'm sorry the old vicar Is dead," 
said Mrs. Peppercorn. '^That he had his faults I 
don't deny ; he wouldn't have been a man if he hadn'ti 
and of the sort that show, too. Men never can hide 
their faults as women can — ^never. He was old and 
fussy and pemickerty — anyone with half an eye could 
see that — but he never interfered with the goings-on 
of his parishioners, and he never preached a sermon 
that made you feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied with 
yourself, which is the sort of preaching that I can't 

*' Oh, he was a good man ! " exclaimed enthusiastic 
little Miss Tovey ; ** a man with a clean heart and an 
engaging manner, and the most beautiful complexion 
for his age that Pve ever seen." 

But Mrs. Peppercorn would not allow an unmarried 
woman to give her opinion upon a man in this way — ^it 
was altogether out of her province. 

** As to his heart, Amelia Tovey, you know nothing 
at all about it. Nobody sees what's in a man's heart 
except his wife and his Maker; and I doubt they find 
it advisable to overlook a good deal that they see, or 
there'd never be no peace nowhere. And as to his 

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complexion, it was as God made it, and no credit to 
himself at all." 

** Still, a good complexion is a fine thing," said Mrs. 
Paicey, who was always bent on seeking peace at any 
cost. " See what a beautiful one you have yourself, 
Mrs. Peppercorn." 

" The gift of God coupled with the use of soap and 
water," retorted the owner of the said complexion, 
** and no excuse for pride and vainglory on my part 

" What I am always feeling is not so much regret for 
the Reverend Hanson, since he had his faults, as Mrs. 
Peppercorn has just passed the remark, but I'm full of 
fear as to who will come after him," said Mrs. Mawer, 
with a loud sigh. " Mark my words ; every change is 
bound to be a change for the worse, and I've never 
known it to be otherwise." 

" Come, come, Mrs. Mawer," said Mrs. Paicey, in an 
encouraging voice; "you do take a gloomy view of 
things, to be sure!" 

" If you'd lived my life you'd take my views," retorted 
Mrs. Mawer, " but I'm not one to thrust them upon 
others against their will. Far from it. I may not say 
it, but I shall always think it, that this world is a 
wilderness of care ; and you can't see it different which- 
ever way you look at it, and it is no good pretending 
that you can," 

** That's all nonsense," cried Mrs. Peppercorn. ** Fve 
lived in the world for over fifty years, and I've come 
across no wilderness of care." 

Mrs. Mawer sighed again louder than ever. It was 

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a wonder that such deep and continuous sighing did 
not make her giddy. **You weren't married to 
Mawer," she replied. 

This seemed irrefutable, but Mrs. Peppercorn was 
equal to it. ** Pd more sense.'' 

It was the occasion of the weekly Dorcas-meeting in 
the parish of Dinglewood, which parish had just lately 
been deprived by death of the vicar who had charge of 
it for a quarter of a century. Every Monday after- 
noon a select company of matrons and maids resident 
in DInglewood met together in Mrs. Peppercorn's roomy 
parlour, to make garments for the poor, and at the 
same time to discuss at some length the affairs of the 

They were a fairly typical group of village women. 
There was Mrs. Peppercorn, the stout, sensible, well-to- 
do farmer's wife — a power in the place and a terror 
to evildoers; and Mrs. Mawer, the depressed and de- 
pressing relict of the late postmaster ; and Mrs. Paicey, 
the comely spouse of a market-gardener; and Miss Skin- 
ner, of the post office, who had known better (and 
younger) days, and prided herself upon her advanced 
opinions; and little Miss Tovey, the dressmaker, who 
had kept her heart of seventeen through thrice seven- 
teen summers. 

"Well, I do hope the new parson, whoever he may 
be, will be affable and friendly-like, and as kindly as the 
late vicar," remarked Mrs. Paicey. "I suppose that 
It's Miss Fallowfield as will have the settling of It, as 
it were ; and she Is a sensible sort of lady, as you might 

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" For an old maid, she is," emended Mrs. Peppercorn ; 
" but you can't get the same sense out of an old maid 
as you can out of a married woman, and it is no use 
expecting it." Mrs. Peppercorn cherished a profoimd 
contempt for all single women — a contempt which was 
but slightly modified with respect to married women 
who had no children; and was hardly modified at all 
with regard to married women with families, who had 
not succeeded in " settling " their daughters. She her- 
self had married young, had had a healthy and nu- 
merous progeny, and had seen all her daughters (there 
were five of them) comfortably mated. Therefore there 
was no blot on her matronly escutcheon, and she felt 
herself in a position openly to scorn and condemn all 
less successful wives and mothers. 

" Isn't it wonderful," exclaimed Miss Tovey, with q, 
flutter of excitement, " to think of a mere woman hav- 
ing the power to settle who the clergyman of a parish 
shall be? It seems to me too great an honour for a 
woman, almost as if she were putting herself in the 
place of God ! " 

Here Miss Skinner thrust her oar in. ** I .never 
approve of private patronage myself; it is a most 
unfair advantage of the rich over the poor." 

" I know what I think," remarked the hostess 
oracularly, " and those who live longest will see how 
true it is." 

" And what is that, Mrs. Peppercorn? Pray give it 
a name," entreated Miss Tovey. 

" Yes, do, Mrs. Peppercorn ! " cried Mrs. Paicey. 

The oracle acceded to these requests. " It is my 

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opinion — ^which you can take for what it's worth, and 
them as don't value it can leave it alone — that Mrs. 
Sprott intends to get the living of Dinglewood for her 
precious son, Theophilus.'' 

At this there was a perfect chorus : 

" You don't say so, Mrs. Peppercorn ! '' 

** Surely you are mistaken ! '* 

" Well, I never in all my life! " 

" That would be a pretty kettle of fish! " 

** Well, to be sure, that is the uptake ! " 

** You needn't believe me," replied Mrs. Peppercorn ; 
" nobody need believe me that doesn't want to ; but, 
unless I'm very much mistaken, that is Mrs. Sprott's 
intention. And all I can say is that if she gets her way 
I shall join the chapel-folks; for I wouldn't sit under a 
son of Mrs. Sprott's — ^no, not if you was to crown me." 

Here Miss Skinner took up her parable again. " Ah, 
now you see the evil of private patronage. Why should 
Miss Fallowfield have the power to set a man over this 
parish that we all dislike? I call it scandalous ! " 

" So do I, Miss Skinner," agreed Mrs. Mawer. 
" And if we don't dislike him at the beginning, we are 
sure to come to it in the end, the world being what it is." 

"When you come to that," continued the post- 
mistress, who was now mounted on her favourite hobby- 
horse, " why should Miss Fallowfield be so rich and I so 
poor? Why should she be rolling in luxury, while I 
have to toil for my daily bread? " 

" And why should you be able to earn a living for 
yourself, while others are dying of starvation?" in- 
quired Mrs. Peppercorn. 

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This counter-attack somewhat nonplussed Miss Skin- 
ner. " I don't know, I'm sure.'' 

"Neither do I," continued the redoubtable Pepper- 
corn ; " I've often wondered." 

" I believe Miss Fallowfield is very, very rich," ex- 
claimed the little dressmaker. " I've heard it said that 
she has a million of money ! " 

** And I call it a great shame for a fortune like that 
to be given to one woman," quoth the revolutionary 
post-mistress. " I don't wish to speak irreverently, but 
I sometimes find it difficult to reconcile the enormous 
fortunes which the Almighty bestows upon certain quite 
unworthy persons, with my idea of justice." 

" Well," replied the hostess, " He didn't make that 
mistake in your case, Emma Skinner, so you needn't be 
led into free-thinking on that score." 

"Mrs. Sprott is late this afternoon," remarked the 
gentle Mrs. Paicey. 

" And no wonder," retorted Mrs. Peppercorn ; " you'd 
be late if you were so busy attending to other people's 
affairs that you hadn^t time to look after your own. 
Not that I've any cause to grumble, however, for the 
later she is the better I'm pleased ; and I should be most 
pleased of all if she didn't come till the Dorcas-meeting 
was over." 

" I wish she hadn't introduced this custom of reading 
aloud at the Dorcas," sighed Mrs, Paicey; "it seems 
to confuse you and take your mind off your work as 
it were. I haven't the mind to take in a gusset and a 
history-book at once, and I don't pretend to it; but I 
used to enjoy the bit of talk at the Dorcas more than 

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anything; that and Mrs. Peppercorn's tea," she added 
poKtely . " Fm always one more for talk than reading ; 
you seem to get so much more information out of it, as 
you might say." 

** Reading is the only recreation for cultured spirits," 
said Miss Skinner ; ** I dote upon it myself." 

Little Miss Tovey agreed with her. She was one of 
those clinging spirits who always agree with every- 

^^ It is indeed. Miss Skinner, dear, and so delightful 
to lose one's self in an imaginary world." 

" I was not referring to the perusal of novels when 
I remarked that I doted upon reading. I meant some- 
thing more broadening to the mind than mere fiction. 
Though I must admit that there is much to be learnt 
from the modem novel, which as a rule grapples with a 
problem instead of merely telling a story, as its be- 
nighted predecessors used to do. Yes; there is much 
that is broadening in the modem novel." 

" There is often much that is too broad," said Mrs* 
Peppercorn, " judging from what Fve seen my girls 
get out of the circulating libraries." 

" Still it opens the mind of the reader." 

" So it does. Miss Skinner, and to a good deal that 
had better have been left shut." 

" The worst of reading aloud at a Dorcas-meeting," 
remarked Miss Tovey, " is that as a rule it makes you 
cry, so that you can't see to thread your needle, and 
that seems to waste time so. Yet I do feci it wouldn't 
be right to read a story at a Dorcas that didn't make 
you cry — it would seem almost like Sabbath-breaking." 

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"Why not read aloud a book that will make yoq 
laugh? " suggested the advanced Miss Skinner. 

But this was too much even for gentle Mrs. Paicey. 
** Oh! no, Miss Skinner; surely not at a sewing-party, 
which is almost a religious service, as you might say." 

"But you would talk about things that make you 
laugh at a sewing-party, so why not read about them? ^' 

" Because talking and reading are quite different^ 
Emma Skinner," Mrs. Peppercorn hastened to explain. 
" For instance, I see no harm in Peppercorn's talking 
a bit of politics on a Sunday so long as he don't expect 
me to listen to such rubbish — ^none at all. But if I 
caught him reading a newspaper on a Sunday — my 
word! Pd pop it behind the fire in prfetty quick time, 
and give him a word of a sort into the bargain," 

" But a sewing-party is not a Sunday," objected 
Miss Skinner. 

"Perhaps not exactly," replied Mrs. Paicey; "but 
it is something of the same nature, as you might say." 

Here Mrs. Peppercorn pronounced judgment. " I 
quite agree with Mrs. Sprott that a Dorcas-meeting 
is not the place for gossip ; as a matter of fact, I don't 
know what place is, for gossip is a thing of which I 
don't approve, and it is no use pretending that I do. 
But a bit of pleasant chat is quite a different thing, 
and does one a lot more good than those dry old books 
that Mrs. Sprott is so fond of ramming down our 

" Mrs. Tibbets used to gossip something awful at the 
sewing-parties last winter, as it were," remarked Mrs, 

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^^ That she did ; it quite disgusted me/' agreed Mrs. 

** And me,'' added Mrs. Paicey. 

^ And Mrs. Sprott herself isn't above a bit of gossip 
sometimes." It was Miss Skinner who spoke. 

The lady of the house agreed with her with imction. 
** You're right there, Emma Skinner, you're right there ; 
you never spoke a truer word in your life ; and it is not 
always charitable gossip either. That woman is finding 
fault with her neighbours and putting them straight 
from morning till night. For my part, I don't think 
such behaviour is Christian, let alone right. We all 
know what Saint James said about the religion of those 
people that didn't bridle their tongues ; he had no pa- 
tience with it whatsoever. And it is my opinion that 
Mrs. Sprott was just the kind of body that Saint James 
had in his mind's eye when he wrote that bit." 

" Her and Mrs. Tibbets," suggested Mrs. Paicey. 

" Yes, Mrs. Paicey, that is so ; though I still hold 
that Mrs. Sprott is the worst of the two. She couldn't 
keep clear of her neighbours' affairs, no, not if you was 
to crown her. And what business is it of hers what 
other people do or leave undone, I should like to know? 
I've no patience with folks who keep passing their re- 
marks on things that don't concern them." 

" No, nor have I, Mrs. Peppercorn ; and as for Paicey, 
he can't stand it. He won't allow gossip at any price, 
won't Paicey. * Mind your business,' he says, * and leave 
other folks to mind theirs; and if they do anything out 
of the common, Mary Ann, just you tell me about it, 
and I'll see if I can't explain it.' " 

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" That reminds me," Miss Tovey remarked, " that 
a little bird has whispered to me that Mr. Crabbe, of 
Appleton Farm, is paying his respects to Mrs. Tibbets.'* 

The needle dropped from Mrs. Peppercorn's fingers. 
" You don't say so, Amelia Tovey — and his wife hardly 
cold in her grave yet ! Well, that's the uptake of every- 
thing! And Mrs. Tibbets, who has been a widow for 
fifteen years, and ought to know better by this time! 
I've a great mind to go and tell her what a fool she is 
making of herself." 

" Some folks don't know when they are well off," 
sighed Mrs. Mawer. 

" But they know fast enough when other people are," 
added Mrs. Peppercorn, "and feather their own nests 

" I think if Mr. Crabbe intends to marry again, he 
might have selected a more suitable life-companion than 
Mrs. Tibbets." Miss Skinner spoke in quite a huffy 
tone of voice. 

Mrs. Peppercorn sniffed contemptuously. She never 
paid any attention to the dicta of an unmarried woman. 
" But he doesn't want a life-companion, as it happens ; 
a life-insurance is more in his line." 

** I should think the poor man must have felt terribly 
lonely ever since his dear wife was taken from him," 
Miss Tovey chimed in. 

" That's just the sort of thing you would think, 
Amelia ; and it isn't worth thinking — much less saying." 

"But, Mrs. Peppercorn, dear, any man— even the 
most callous — ^must miss the woman that has been his 
helpmeet for over thirty years." 

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"You didn't know Mrs, Crabbe, Amelia; that is 

** No, Mrs. Peppercorn, I had not that pleasure.'* 

'* Then don't talk about what you don't know about, 
Amelia Tovey ; it's a waste of time." 
- Poor Miss Tovej bit her thread in humiliated silence, 
and subsided. 

** I must tell Paicey about this ; he'll be rare and in- 
terested-like, will Paicey. Over and over again he has 
said to me, * Mary Ann,' says he, * mark my words : 
some designing woman will get hold of that old gossip- 
ing fool for the money, and she'll talk his hind legs 
off and leave her savings to her own people in the 
end.' Oh, but He can't stand gossip at any price, can't 
Paicey; and Mrs. Tibbets is fairly more than he can 

And Mrs. Paicey purred with pleasure at having so 
delectable a piece of news wherewith to regale her lord 
and master upon her return to her own hearth. 

" I can't think why Mrs. Tibbets isn't here to-day,'* 
said Mrs. Mawer; "she used to be such a regular at- 
tendant at the Dorcas. I trust she has had no bad 
news, nor any sudden stroke of illness that will carry 
her off sudden-like." 

** She always looks strong enough, if looks count for 

" So she does, Mrs. Peppercorn, so she does ; but ap- 
pearances are very deceptive, especially in the case of 
stout persons. I always think that stout people, such 
as yourself, for instance, and Mrs. Tibbets, are the first 
to go off if anything ails them. Here to-day and gone 

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to-morrow, that's the way with them stout figures." 
Aud Mrs. Mawer sighed like a furnace. 

But Miss Skinner took a more hopeful view of the 
situation. ** I met Mrs. Tibbets on her way to the 
station as I came here, and she looked all right." 

At this Mrs. Mawer fairly groaned. "Looks are 
nothing in the case of stout people. In fact, the 
stronger they look the sooner they're gone." 

Mrs. Peppercorn laid down her work that she might 
think the more profoundly. " I wonder what that 
means? There's something behind that! It isn't like 
Mrs. Tibbets to go to town, especially on a Monday 
afternoon. I must get to the bottom of this. What 
had she got on, Emma Skinner.? " 

** I didn't particularly notice ; something red and yel- 
low on her head, I think, and dark clothes. But I 
never am one to notice dress much; I don't go in for 
being fashionable." A somewhat superfluous statement 
on Miss Skinner's part. 

" Well, I never ! Her Sunday bonnet ! It's the one 
that had lilies and forget-me-nots all the summer, and 
she's just had it done up and made seasonable with com 
and nasturtiums. It is very unlike Mrs. Tibbets to wear 
her Sunday bonnet on a Monday afternoon ; and when I 
see a ^unday bonnet on a Monday afternoon I know 
there's something behind it ! " And Mrs. Peppercorn's 
face stiffened with determination to solve the mystery. 

At this juncture a diversion was made by the arrival 
of " the quality," in the form of Mrs. Sprott and Mrs. 

Mrs. Higginson, the wife of a retired manufacturer 

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of boots and shoes, was a thin, old-maidish looking 
woman with a passion for gentility; but Mrs. Sprott, 
the better-half of Timothy Sprott, head clerk in the 
legal firm of Duncan and Somers, was of another kid-» 
ney altogether, Mrs. Higginson's claim to gentility 
was based upon her deceased father, whom she always 
described as "a professional man," and referred to as 
" the doctor." As a matter of fact, this worthy gentle- 
man had been a retail chemist in the days of his flesh; 
but those days were so remote, and his daughter's 
memory so imaginative, that time and filial enthusiasm 
had succeeded in bestowing upon him the degree of 
M. D. Mrs. Sprott, on the contrary, owned no special 
pride of ancestry. Her claim to distinction — after the 
manner of the mother of the Gracchi — rested in her 
only child, Theophilus, who had (according to his 
mother's notions) secured high rank in this world and 
the next by taking Holy Orders. The priesthood of 
Theophilus had completely turned his mother's head. It 
not only caused her to regard herself as on a social par 
with that section of society which she described as " the 
county " ; it also led her to insist upon ofi^ering up the 
closing Collect at the weekly Dorcas-meeting, in the 
absence of the vicar, as if — ^in some strange and occult 
fashion — Apostolic succession were retrospective, and 
conferred its peculiar grace upon the mothers of the 

Mrs. Sprott had been abundantly baptised with an 
outpouring of the missionary spirit ; that is to say, she 
regarded herself as specially called to correct the faults 
and redress the wrongs of her neighbours; and when 

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the spirit of knight-errantry finds a lodging in the 
breast of a middle-aged female, woe betide everybody 
all round! She was, moreover, an aggressive woman. 
Everything about her was aggressive. Her black silk 
dress was of that stiff, unbending nature which seems 
specially ordained to stand alone; her black velveteen 
mantle was trimmed with a fringe of bugles which made 
a noise when she moved like the muttering of trees be- 
fore a storm; and her bonnet was ablaze with purple 
roses and yellow forget-me-nots, thereby teaching 
Nature a lesson as to the colours in which those flowers 
ought originally to have been designed. 

" I fear we are rather late," exclaimed this excellent 
woman as she sat down in her accustomed place and un- 
fastened the bundle of unbleached calico wherein her 
own particular chemise was enshrined ; " but I was hin- 
dered by having to call at Mrs. Baker's on the way to 
superintend the food that she is giving to her youngest 

"Not at all, not at aU,** replied the hostess, with 
dangerous suavity ; " you are in good time for tea, Mrs. 
Sprott, very good time.'' 

There was chronic warfare between Mrs. Sprott and 
the house of Peppercorn. 

"Talking of children reminds me," continued Mrs. 
Sprott, ** that your baby is looking very ill, Mrs. 
Paicey. What age is it now? " 

" Eleven months," replied Mrs. Paicey, with a quiver 
of maternal anguish. Yet Mrs. Sprott, ta do her 
justice, had no intention of being deliberately cruel — 
she merely wished to prove to Mrs. Paicey how much 

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better in health the youthful Paicey would be if she 
(Mrs. Sprott) were consulted as to their upbringing. 

" Eleven months ; it looks more like a baby of eleven 
weeks ! What do you feed it on? '* 

" Framley's food. He has seemed to take to it, as it 
were, and to digest it.'* 

"I don't approve of Framley's food. I brought up 
my Theophilus on tops-and-bottoms." 

** So I should have supposed from the looks of him,'* 
interjected Mrs. Peppercorn. 

Mrs. Sprott felt that there was battle in the air, 
though she could not lay her finger upon it. Mrs. 
Peppercorn had said nothing, in so many words, derog- 
atory to tops-and-bottoms, yet there was something 
in the tone of her voice which gave the impression that 
she did not consider them a desirable food. 

" I did not catch your meaning, Mrs. Peppercorn." 

** Nothing to catch, Mrs. Sprott, I'm sure. You 
tell us that Mr. Theophilus was brought up on tops- 
and-bottoms, and I pass the remark that he looks it. 
And if he looks like what he is, there's surely nothing 
to be surprised at in that. It would be more surprising 
if it was the other way." 

Again Mrs. Sprott scented battle ; and this time she 
took refuge in flight. " Has anyone begim the read- 
ing aloud? " she asked. 

^*Not that I've noticed," the hostess replied; "but 
then Fm not one to attend much to reading aloud, I 

"But, Mrs. Peppercorn, how often have I tried to 
convince you that it is far better to try and improve 

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our minds by reading aloud an instructive book at the 
sewing-parties than to waste our time in ill-natured and 
foolish gossip?'* 

" By aU means, Mrs. Sprott ; and if you feel tempted 
that way you do right to close your lips, so to speak, 
by reading aloud; but ill-natured and foolish gossip is 
no temptation to me, and it is no use my pretending 
that it is." 

" Nevertheless, Mrs. Peppercorn,'* Mrs. Sprott con- 
tinued, " you must see that even harmless conversation 
may speedily degenerate into gossip if it is not held in 

" Certainly — ^with some people." 

** When we get into the habit of not thinking before 
we speak, it is remarkable how many unwise and unkind 
things we say — ^and without any intention of being un- 
wise or unkind either," said the village Mentor. 

" All the same," persisted Mrs. Peppercorn, " it's a 
mistake to get into the habit of thinking before you 
speak ; it nearly always ends in leaving something unsaid 
which it would have done somebody a power of good to 

Poor Mrs. Paicey took no part in this discussion ; all 
the life had been taken out of her by Mrs. Sprott's re- 
mark about her baby. But Mrs. Higginson joined in: 
** Surely, Mrs. Peppercorn, there are occasions when it 
is better to think before one speaks, say when one is 
angry, for instance, and one's equanimity is ruflSed. 
You would never scold anyone when you were in a 
temper, would you? " 

** Always; it's the time when I scold best. I don't 

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think of half such good things after I've cooled down a 
bit. Why, if I don't scold Peppercorn in the very nick 
of time when Pm put out with him, I get thinking what 
a well-set-up man he is, and what a pleasant face he's 
got, and all sorts of soft thoughts, till in the end he 
don't get scolded at all." 

" And think what a good thing that is, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn, dear," murmured Miss Tovey. 

" Excuse me, Amelia, but you haven't been married to 
Peppercorn these thirty years — I have." 

Here Mrs. Mawer indulged in a stupendous sigh. 
** It was all very well, Mrs. Peppercorn, while your hus- 
band was young — ^very well indeed ; but when folks get 
to his age you never know that you mayn't be speaking 
to them for the last time, those big, fine men getting 
carried off so sudden-like just when they seem at their 
best. And then how sad for the last words between you 
to be the words of anger ! " 

"I think perhaps I had better begin the reading 
aloud," remarked Mrs. Sprott, laying down her sewing 
and taking a book out of her hand-bag. "I have 
brought * The History of the Prayer Book ' to read 
to you this time, as last week we finished * The Lives of 
the Minor Prophets.' I feel sure you wiU aU be inter- 
ested to learn how our beloved Prayer Book was orig- 
inally composed." 

Mrs. Peppercorn shook her head with decision. " I 
never care to know how things are made — never. I 
remember once seeing how chocolate was made at an 
exhibition, and I've never been able to touch the filthy 
stuff since." 

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" But surely, Mrs. Peppercorn," Mrs. Sprott per- 
sisted, " our dear Prayer Book is quite a different thing 
from mere chocolate? You must feel an interest in its 
history — ^and you the wife of a churchwarden ! I con- 
sider the Prayer Book the backbone of our English 

This set Mrs. Peppercorn's own back up more than 
ever. It never failed to exasperate her when Mrs. 
Sprott — ^by right of a vested interest in Theophilus — 
spoke of the Church as her private preserve. " It may 
be the backbone of the English Church," she retorted, 
"but that's no reason that I can see for wanting to 
know how it was made. For my part I consider the 
clergy the backbone of the EngUsh Church, ajid I 
respect them accordingly, and some more than others; 
but I don't feel the least interest in knowing whether 
they were brought up on Framley's food or tops-and- 
bottoms, and it's no use pretending that I do." 

This was a master-stroke, and Mrs. Sprott felt it 
so. She had no retort ready, so "her bugles sang 
truce" (as they did in the poem), and, with a pre- 
liminary shake of her mantle, she opened her book. 

But before she had time to begin, Miss Skinner re- 
marked, ** Talking of clergymen, I wonder who Miss 
FaUowfield will appoint vicar of Dinglewood in the 
Reverend Hanson's place. 

" And so do I," echoed Mrs. Higginson. " It is in- 
deed a grave responsibility to select the shepherd of so 
large a flock as the one of which we are members. I 
remember my dear papa, the doctor, used to say, * The 
head of the Church in every parish is the vicar,^ and so 

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indeed It is." The doctor's daughter was very much 
addicted to quoting the most ordinary and obvious plati- 
tudes uttered by the departed chemist as if they were 
the choicest epigrams and epitomes of wisdom. 

**What this parish really wants,*' announced Mrs. 
Sprott, ^^ is a young and vigorous man, unhampered as 
yet by the cares and responsibilities of married life.*' i 

"I thought as much," ejaculated the lady of the 

" As much as what, Mrs. Peppercorn? " It was Miss 
Tovey who spoke, in her usual thirst for information. 

** That what this parish really wants is a young man 
with no wife and less experience," was the dark answer. 

Mrs. Sprott thought fit to take this statement liter- 

"That is quite true, Mrs. Peppercorn, and I 
only trust that Miss Fallowfield will see it in the same 
light as we do. But when I say an unmarried man, I 
do not mean a man altogether unhelped by feminine in- 
fluence. A successful parish priest, even if still singlej 
should always have a woman at his elbow — a mother or 
a sister — to counsel him." 

Again Mrs. Peppercorn apparently agreed with her 
enemy. " And he is bound to get them. No man with 
female relatives has any cause to go wrong for want 
of a bit of advice." 

** Yes," added Mrs. Sprott, once more opening " The 
History of the Prayer Book " ; " what Dinglewood re- 
quires for its spiritual needs is a young and earnest* 
unmarried clergyman, with some capable woman always 
at his side ; a man full of the enthusiasm and single-mind- 

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edness of youth, who has been brought up by wise and 
pious parents/' 

"Upon tops-and-bottoms," murmured Mrs. Pepper- 
corn ; but the mother of Theophilus was too wise to ap- 
pear to hear her, and proceeded to delve among the 
foundations of the Anglican Prayer Book until it was 
time for her to offer up her closing Collect and bring the 
sewing-meeting to an end. 

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On the great highroad that runs from London to 
Chester, straight through the heart of the Midlands, 
stands the little village of Dinglewood. 

It is a fine old road, and has seen fine old doings in 
its time. It has echoed to the tramp of the Roman 
legions as they thundered forth on their triumphant 
way ; it has watched the knights and ladies of the Middle 
Ages ride by on their armed steeds and their white p€d- 
f reys. Hereward the Wake made use of it as he rode 
home on Mare Swallow after playing the potter; €uid 
Charles the Second found it his friend when he escaped 
to Boscobel after the battle of Worcester. Now it no 
longer bears the tread of armies or guides the steps of 
fugitive kings ; it has fallen upon more peaceful and less 
eventful days. Instead of Hereward flying to the 
merry greenwood, or Charles fleeing from the Parlia- 
mentary hosts, tired huntsmen jog along its grassy 
edges on wintry evenings, seeking rest after a good 
day's sport; instead of gay post-chaises, with their 
postilions, or mail-coaches with their smoking teams, 
hay-carts rumble in summer along its broad white path, 
and farmers drive in their gigs to and from market; 
and instead of the clash of arms and the tramp of 
armies, its silence is now broken by the hideous trumpet- 


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ings of motor cars. Other days, other manners — some- 
times better, sometimes not so good — a truth which has 
been well trodden into the fine old road, called by some 
the Streetway and by others the Watling Street, which 
runs from London through the heart of the Midlands 
straight to the western sea. 

We have seen that there are special voices of the 
forest and of the sea and of the mountain, and there 
is likewise the special voice of the road. As the spirit 
of the forest is the spirit of love, and the spirit 
of the sea the spirit of sorrow, and the spirit of the 
mountain the spirit of prayer, so the spirit of the high- 
way is the spirit of hope. VHiich of us does not know 
the exhilaration of setting out on a broad highway, with 
its white path in the centre, and its strips of greensward 
on either side, and the unknown at the other end of it? 
Which of us at some time or other has not heard the 
call of the road sounding in our ears, bidding us 
journey on to " fresh woods and pastures new '' ? There 
is always something hopeful in the sight of a great 
highway. There is no stagnation in it, no finality. It 
is imbued with the spirit of progress, and is forever 
urging us to forget those things which are behind, and 
to reach forward unto those things which are before. 
And the voice of the road is one of the voices of eternity ; 
for in that country where it is decreed that the sea shall 
be no more, it is also ordained that a highway shall be 
there, which shall be called the way of holiness ; which 
surely teaches us that the life of the world to come shall 
be no formless Nirvana, no semi-conscious absorption 
into infinity, but a life of service and effort and activity, 

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the life of a great highway. And, further, it brings 
us a message of comfort concerning those who haye 
gone astray from the highroads of this world and have 
wandered in forbidden paths ; for on that new highway, 
which is called the way of holiness, travellers can press 
onwards to fresh duties and fresh attainments, un- 
hampered by those temptations and infirmities of the 
flesh which proved too strong for them here ; for of that 
road it is written that the wayfaring man, though a 
fool, shall not err therein. 

The spirit of a place must inevitably exercise a 
marked influence upon the characters of the people w1k> 
are bom and bred in it. The inhabitants of densely- 
wooded regions are as a rule inclined to poetry and 
romance; sea-faring folk are rarely gay or light- 
hearted, but have a sad and far-away look in their eyes, 
as those who see strange and terrible wonder in the deep ; 
they who dwell upon mountain tops and in the high 
places of the earth are prone to ponder upon the mys- 
teries of the Unseen even to the verge of religious 
melancholy ; and those whose lot is cast in the habitable 
parts which fringe the great highways are generally a 
hopeful and progressive people, who have learnt the 
secret of success. It is not their way to plunge into 
the heart of the woodland in search of Love feeding- 
among the lilies; nor to fling their souls in unceasing^ 
rebellion against the hard rocks of Fate; nor yet to 
stretch forth groping hands towards the Unknown God 
that haply they may feel after Him and find Him : but 
rather to set their faces to attain the practical and to 
compass the possible, unhindered by the brooding 

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shadow of mystery or the elusive glamour of romance ; 
and to set their feet upon the road which leads to a 
known and certain goal, through low-lying hills which 
are gateways rather than barriers, and beside running 
waters which are a means rather than an end. 

The spirit of the road is the prevailing spirit of 
Mercia, for Mercia is the land of roads, leading from 
north to south and from east to west. And the typical 
Mercian is cheerful and progressive, practical, and sen- 
sible, not given to the seeing of indescribable visions nor 
the dreaming of impossible dreams, but devoting his 
working hours to the tramping of those dusty high- 
ways which lead to professional proficiency and com- 
mercial success, and taking his pastime in those green 
and grassy lanes — Chidden sometimes under snowdrifts 
of blossom and sometimes under canopies of fruit — 
which will eventually bring him to a cosy and comfort- 
able homestead of his own. 

Therefore, DJnglewood being situated in the very 
middle of Mercia, and the spirit of Mercia being the 
spirit of the road, the story of Dinglewood will be no 
blood-curdling tale of mystery and no enthralling 
legend of romance, but just the ordinary commonplace 
history of ordinary commonplace people, who neither 
work miracles nor make angels weep ; but who learn and 
labour truly to get their own living, and strive (with 
occasional lapses) to do their duty in that state of life 
to which it has pleased God to call them. 

And as the road through Dinglewood crosses no snow- 
covered peaks and borders no unfathomable oceans, and 
jet has its ups and downs — ^its low-lying hills and its 

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fertile valleys — so the people of Dinglewood find their 
own romance and pathos in their ordinary and appar- 
ently uneventful lives. And we do well now and then to 
turn away from our search after thrilling incident and 
soul-stirring tragedy, to look for the real joy and sor- 
row of ordinary human life as we see it at our doors, 
lest haply in our eagerness to do and to know some great 
thing, and to bathe in the Abanas and Pharpars of 
dramatic emotion, we omit to cleanse our souls in the 
Jordan of human experience and practical heroism which 
is forever flowing by our very gates. 

Among the most important inhabitants of the village 
of Dinglewood — ^perhaps the most important of all, next 
to the vicar, and he could hardly be called an inhabitant 
just now, as the late one was dead and the new one not 
yet appointed — was Miss Charlotte Fallowfield, a maiden 
lady of some forty-eight summers, who had inherited 
a very large fortune five-and-twenty years before this 
story opens; and who had then expended a portion of 
this fortune in purchasing Dinglewood Hall, which hap- 
pened to be in the market. A handsome woman was 
Miss Fallowfield, with masses of black hair now streaked 
with grey, aquiline features, a good complexion, and 
dark eyes which looked as bright as they looked when 
they were but twenty years old, and saw a good deal 
more than they saw then. 

At the age of twenty-three Miss Fallowfield had come 
into a fortune of a million — an immense sum to be en- 
trusted ta the hands of any woman. And Charlotte had 
not proved herself unworthy of the trust. As is un- 
usual in the case of persons who suddenly spring out of 

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the depths of poverty to the heights of excessive wealth, 
she had become neither recklessly extravagant nor mis- 
erably parsimonious. In fact she had shown herself one 
of those rare people who possess a sense of proportion 
where money is concerned. She estimated it at its true 
value in the eternal scheme of things, and dealt with it 

Her position was a singularly independent and soli- 
tary one. At the time of her succeeding to this vast 
fortune she was an orphan with one sister, a year or 
two younger than herself, and until that event she and 
Phoebe had had a hard struggle for existence. But then 
everything changed. All pressing anxiety was over for- 
ever, and permanent comfort, if not happiness, awaited 
the two girls. Owing to Charlotte's generosity, Phoebe 
was shortly able to marry the man of her girlish choice 
— a handsome and impecunious curate of Irish extrac- 
tion. They had one child — a daughter — ^whom they 
christened Dagmar. For a few years they lived to- 
gether in a state of ideal happiness, in a rural parish to 
which Derek Silverthome was appointed soon after his 
marriage. Having private means (Charlotte's) they 
could afford to accept a living which would have meant 
absolute starvation to a man less handsomely endowed 
— one of those incimibencies so common, alas! in the 
Church of England, which pro^e the adherence of a 
great nation to the doctrine that the labourer is not 
worthy of his hire. Then Derek caught a fever in the 
fulfilment of his pastoral duties, which proved fatal;: 
and his young wife, to everyone's surprise, did not long 
survive him, but died a few months afterwards, nomi- 

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nally of a neglected cold, but actually of a broken heart. 
It was one of those cases where people do the exact 
opposite to that which their natures prophesy and their 
friends expect. Fhodbe Silverthome's was one of those 
happy-go-lucky characters which are supposed to 
resemble the proverbial duck's back. Nothing — ^not 
even poverty itself, that most depressing of companions 
— seemed able to affect her light-heartedness. She was 
the type of woman of whom people say, " If anything 
happened to her husband she would be bound to marry 
again.'' And therefore it was a source of amazement 
to everybody who knew her to find that she was not 
made of such slight elements as they had imagined. It 
is a generally accepted though utterly erroneous article 
of belief, that melancholy people have deeper feelings 
than cheerful people, and that those who are endowed 
with a sense of humour have of necessity therefore been 
denied a sense of pathos. A woman has only to wear a 
sad expression of countenance and to talk in a whining 
voice, and people give her credit for unfathomable 
depths of sentiment and emotion; while her sister, who 
goes smiling through life and irradiates cheerfulness 
wherever she may be, is credited with utter want of 
heart; for in these days of advertisement people have 
not the discernment to perceive that the difference be- 
tween the melancholy woman and the cheery one is gen- 
erally the difference between selfishness and unselfish- 
ness. They both have their sorrows — they would not 
be human if they had not — ^but the former forces her 
^burdens upon other people, while the latter sets herself 
Ho lighten theirs. 

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So merry Phoebe Silverthome died from the breakage 
of that organ which a superficial world had not given 
her the credit for possessing; and little Dagmar went 
to live with her Aunt Charlotte, 

In spite of her large fortune — or rather, perhaps, 
because of it — Charlotte Fallowfield had never married. 
True, she had had a disappointment in her youth which 
would have constrained some women deliberately to 
choose a life of celibacy; but Charlotte was not one of 
these. She was descended from a good old Midland 
stock, with aU the Midland characteristics, and she 
would have considered it an act of foolish sentiment to 
condemn herself to a solitary existence because poor 
Herbert Wilson had not lived to marry her. Had he 
done so, there would have been no more faithful and de- 
voted wife in England than Charlotte ; but as she could 
not now make him happy, she correctly reasoned that it 
would be in accordance with his wishes that she should 
be as happy as she could without him; and if she had 
found any among her numerous lovers who gave her a 
reasonable hope of securing to her this happiness, she 
would straightway have accepted him. But she did 

As a girl Charlotte had been fairly romantic ; but one 
of the results of great wealth — as of great poverty — is 
the early death of romance. The woman who is so 
poor that nobody wants to marry her, and the woman 
who is so rich that everybody wants to marry her, are 
both too clearsighted to be taken in by Love's assump- 
tion of blindness. They know well enough that the 
bandage across the eyes of the so-called " little blind 

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god " is all humbug, and that he can see as far into a 
bank-book as most people, and take aim accordingly. 
Therefore Miss Fallowfield was so accustomed to be pro- 
posed to by men who had not known her long enough or 
well enough to love her for herself that she had lost 
faith in her own power of inspiring affection, and had 
arrived at the melancholy conclusion that nobody cared 
for her except on pecuniary grounds. Yet she was a 
decidedly handsome woman, and would have been an at- 
tractive one had she not been embittered by her own 
wealth. Moreover, she was not a happy woman; and 
unhappy women are very rarely charming, though they 
may be endowed with a certain fascination of their own. 
Charm is a plant which flourishes in a congenial soil and 
a sunny climate, and is found far oftener in the valleys 
of content than on the mountain tops of distinction. 

Her life had been a very lonely one since Phoebe's 
death, as Dagmar was still so young as to be a pet 
rather than a companion, and Charlotte sorely pined for 
the support of a guiding hand to help her in the man- 
agement of her large fortune. The fact that she was 
quite capable of managing it herself in no way de- 
tracted from her constant desire for advice and assist- 
ance; and she would have been lost indeed had it not 
been for the friendship which existed between herself and 
her solicitor, Mr. Duncan of Merchester. Mr. Duncan 
was a distant connection of her father's; and, on ac- 
ceding to her fortune, Miss Fallowfield immediately 
sought him out — a thing she would never have dreamed 
of doing in the days of her poverty — and put all her 
affairs into his hands. It was he who told her when 

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Dinglewood Hall was in the market and advised her to 
buy it, Dinglewood being situated only about five miles 
from Merchester ; and he had been her most valued guide 
and counsellor ever since. 

Miss Fallowfield was a very generous woman. She 
did not save at all, and she only spent a very moderate 
portion of her enormous income, living in the comfort- 
able yet unobtrusive style of a well-bred Englishwoman 
of the upper middle class. The remainder of her in- 
come she gave away, for the greater part anonymously, 
since she had the utmost horror of anything approach- 
ing ostentation or display with regard to her wealth. 
She had not yet made up her mind how she could dispose 
of that wealth in the distant future, when she would be 
no longer able to dispense it herself. She had no in- 
tention of leaving it to her niece ! she knew too well the 
care and responsibility and imhappiness which the pos- 
session of exceptional riches entails upon a woman, and 
she wished to save Dagmar from the disappointment and 
loneliness which she had herself endured. She had there- 
fore settled a hundred thousand pounds upon the girl, 
and told her plainly that was all she must expect from 
her aunt. The remaining nine hundred thousand 
pounds Miss Fallowfield intended to leave to charity, 
but what particular form this charity was to take she 
had not decided. But, as she was as yet on the simny 
side of fifty, she felt there was plenty of time still left 
to her in which to arrive at a just and right decision; 
exactly as she would have felt had she been instead on 
the shady side of eighty. 

As for the niece for whom a tithe of Miss Fallow- 

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field's fortune was reserved, she was a very pretty girl 
indeed. She was tall and slender and had really golden 
hair — ^neither red nor flaxen, but of the exact shade of 
a sovereign — a rose-leaf complexion, and eyes the col- 
our of sapphires. The blue eyes of Englishwomen 
nearly always partake of the hue of turquoises and for- 
get-me-nots; you must cross the Irish Channel if you 
want to find sapphires and violets adorning the windows 
of a woman's soul. Dagmar was still very young, hav- 
ing barely outgrown her title to the epithet " sweet and 
twenty," and she was quite clever enough for a girl en- 
dowed with beauty as well. 

The gates to Dinglewood Park opened on to the great 
highroad, and the Hall was about half a mile from 
them, being approached by a winding drive which bor- 
dered a large sheet of water. The Hall itself was a fine 
old Jacobean house, built of red brick with stone facings, 
and was replete with beautiful curios and works of art, 
as its owner was a lady of great artistic taste ; and the 
gardens were counted among the sights of the Midlands, 
being thrown open to the public one day a week. 

" I wish I could make up my mind what to do with 
regard to the living of Dinglewood," said Miss Fallow- 
field to her niece a few days after the Dorcas-meeting 
described in the last chapter. The two ladies were 
having tea in the cosy morning-room which opened out 
of the state drawing-room at the Hall, and as it was 
autumn the shadows of evening were beginning to 
close in. 

" I don't see why you should be in a hurry. Aunt 
Charlotte. I think it's rather fun having no proper 

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vicar, but getting^ in what you might call * a char- 
clergyman ' to do the work every Sunday. It makes 
such a nice lot of variety •*' 

^* It certainly does that/' agreed Miss Fallowfield, 
with a smile. 

** I think that having the same old clergyman week 
after week gets dreadfully boring,'* continued Dagmar ; 
** but if there is always a new one for every Sunday you 
enjoy his first sermon because you've never heard it be- 
fore, and his second because you've never heard it at 

** That is all very well for you, my dear, but what 
about the parish as a whole? The * char-clergymen,* 
as you call them, don't do any visiting, and the poor are 
shockingly neglected in consequence." 

Dagmar shrugged her pretty shoulders. ** Oh, they 
don't mind that — ^they like it. They don't want a 
clergyman who is always poking his nose into their 
concerns, and interfering all round. What they like is 
one who never gives them advice till they ask for it, and 
then advises them to do the thing they'd already done 
before they asked him. As a rule people don't ask for 
advice, you see, until they've done the thing that they 
are going to do; and then what is the use of advising 
them not to do it?" 

** Certainly not much." 

"And the preaching that people really like," con- 
tinued the sapient young judge, " is the sort that shows 
up their own virtues and is down on their neighbours' 
faults. I'm sure it is." 

" Then I conclude that the preaching that you like 

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most is that which condemns my particular faults and 
extols your particular virtues, eh, little one? " 

** Oh, auntie darling, you haven't got any faults ; and 
those that you have are the nice sort that people are 
much better with than without," replied the loyal Dag- 
mar, who had not had an Irish father for nothing. 

" Well, all the same, dear, I am sadly bothered about 
this living. I must appoint somebody soon, and I can- 
not make up my mind who it shall be. I wish I could 
see my way to giving it to Theophilus Sprott,** and 
Miss Fallowfield sighed. 

Dagmar put down her tea-cup with a gasp of horror. 
" Oh, auntie ! Not that terrible Theophilus? " 

**Yes, that terrible Theophilus, my dearest. Have 
you anything against him? " 

" Why, he's the very ugliest man I ever saw in my 
life ! Pve only seen one uglier, and that was Mr. Han- 
son, and I'm not sure that he was really quite so ugly 
after all ; and then he is so dreadfully old ! " 

" He is forty-one," remarked Miss Fallowfield de- 

** Ah ! I knew he was a great age," retorted Dagmar 
in aH good faith ; " and it does seem such a pity to begin 
with another old man just when we've got rid of Mn 
Hanson at last. Oh, auntie, do get somebody young 
and good-looking and nice; it would make going to 
church so much more amusing." 

" You do not go to church to be amused, Dagmar," 
said Miss Fallowfield, with outward gravity and inward 

" But if you are amused you are much more likely 

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to go again, and that is a good thing ; and if people are 
bored the first time they go to hear him, they don't go 
at all, you see, and that is the end of their church- 

" I am very sorry for Theophilus Sprott,*' continued 
Miss Fallowfield, following her own train of thought; 
** here he is at forty-one with nothing but a curacy. It 
is time that he had a parish of his own. I cannot make 
out why he has not got on better, as he was considered 
very promising as a young man. He used to be the 
head boy, I believe, of Merchester Grammar School; 
and then he went to S. Monica's College, Oxford. He 
must have had a good head in those days." 

** But he must always have had a dreadful face." 

** He couldn't help his face, Dagmar." 

" Well, hQ couldn't help his head either, if you come 
to that." 

Miss Fallowfield laughed. ** I suppose he couldn't ; 
but it always seems more to be people's own doing, 
somehow, if they are clever than if they are good- 

" I know; and it*s so dreadfully unjust. The clever 
girls at school were always being praised for their 
cleverness, as if they had done it themselves ; while we 
pretty ones were always being told we must remember 
that we were as God made us, which used to hurt our 
feelings dreadfully." 

" But why, darling? It was quite true." 

"I know it was; and that was what vexed us so. 
We wouldn't have minded if Miss Perkins had admitted 
that God made the clever girls as well. But she never 

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did. She always buttered them up as if It was entirely 
their own doing." 

"Well, anyway, Theophilus Sprott's face isn't his 
own doing, and I don't see why I should punish him 
further for it ; and I am sorry for him. He began his 
career with so much promise, and it has all come to noth- 
ing. I am always sorry for disappointed people, as I 
am a disappointed woman myself." 

"People generally wouldn't think so," Dagmar ex- 

"Probably not; they generally think wrongly. 
There are two kinds of disappointed people, my child — 
the people who have failed to attain their heart's desire, 
and the people who have succeeded in attaining it ; and 
the latter are the more to be pitied of the two." 

" Still," persisted Dagmar, " it can't matter much 
when you get to Theophilus Sprott's age what happens 
to you; you must feel that your life is over and that 
nothing can make much difference any more. So it 
does seem such a pity to throw away that nice church 
and vicarage upon a man whose life is practically over, 
when it would make a nice young one so tremendously 
happy and comfortable." 

" That argument certainly is a convincing one, and 
Pll give it my full consideration," answered Miss Fal- 
lowfield; and it was now so very dark that Dagmar 
could not see that her aunt was laughing at her. 

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Duncan and Somers had for several generations been 
the leading solicitors in Merchester; but now the firm 
was represented by Mr, Reginald Duncan, as the Somers 
of the present day was an old man of over eighty, and 
the grandson who was eventually to succeed to his share 
in the concern — ^young Alan Wylie — ^had not as yet 
emerged from the chrysalis of articled clerkship. 

Therefore the business was carried on for the present 
by Reginald Duncan and his head clerk, Mr. Sprott. 
Mr. Sprott had entered the service of Duncan and 
Somers as an office-boy fifty years before, and had re- 
mained in that office ever since, having " slowly broad- 
ened down from precedent to precedent *' until he was 
now Mr. Duncan's right-hand man. 

Reginald Duncan was a distinguished-looking man of 
about fifty-five. He was both gifted and cultured, and 
his wide experience had not left him much to learn about 
human nature and its manifold frailties. He was a 
bachelor, and seemed likely to remain so, although he 
had had his romance like the rest of us, the said 
romance being Charlotte Fallowfield. 

When first Charlotte sought her father's distant 
cousin and put her business affairs into his hands, 
Reginald fell in love with her as single-heartedly and 


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completely as if she had not had a penny in the world. 
But he was not as ready to inform her of the fact as 
he would have been in those circumstances, and hence 
arose the crowning mistake of his otherwise prosperous 
and sensible career. He was too proud to make love to 
a woman with such an enormous fortune as Charlotte 
Fallowfield's, and so offered up her happiness and his 
own upon the altar of his pride. For Charlotte and he 
were thoroughly suited to each other, and would have 
been unusually qualified to make one another happy; 
but because Charlotte was enormously rich and he was 
only moderately so, Reginald decreed that they must 
both forego the bliss of an absolutely sympathetic union, 
and be content to dree out their weirds alone — for the 
which most men and no woman would commend him. 

But although Mr. Duncan lived alone in a fine old 
oak-panelled house on the outskirts of Merchester, his 
solitude was not altogether unbroken ; for he had a fre- 
quent visitor in the shape of his nephew, Octavius Rain- 
brow, a young gentleman who loomed very large in the 
eyes of Miss Dagmar Silverthorne. Now Octavius was 
a very great man indeed — ^in his own eyes as well as in 
those of Miss Silverthorne — and he was as yet suffi- 
ciently young to be infallible upon every matter whether 
he knew anything about it or whether he did, not. In 
fact the less he knew the more infallible he was, which is 
one of the glorious prerogatives of youth. And he was 
also in love with the said Miss Silverthorne, although he 
was suflSciently cautious not to mention the fact until his 
position was a little more established ; wherein he showed 
himself his uncle's nephew. He had declined, however. 

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to enter the prosaic If respectable ranks of that uncle's 
profession, and had selected journalism as the most 
agreeable road to that ultimate success which he had 
no doubt was awaiting him. He was the second child 
of his parents, and was christened Octavius, which gave 
the impression to a casual acquaintance that Mr. and 
Mrs. Rainbrow were somewhat shaky in their arithmetic. 
But in reality this was not so. Octavius was named 
after a great-uncle on his father's side, from whom he 
had what people call " expectations,'' and who had been 
in very truth the eighth arrow in that particular quiver- 
ful of Rainbrows. 

It was marvellous to hear Octavius talk upon matters 
about which he knew absolutely nothing, and such conn 
Tersations aroused equally Miss Silverthome's admira- 
tion and his uncle's amusement. At present he was on 
the staff of The Mommg Stmset, and devoted his won- 
derful abilities to correcting and refining public taste 
upon such matters as art, literature and the like. He 
cherished rather a contempt for what he called the 
** newsy " parts of the paper ; his line was to go round 
the coimtry reading novels, seeing plays, and attend- 
ing musical festivals, and then to teach the public how 
to regard the same from the truly artistic (that is to 
say his own particular) point of view. All modem 
novelists he utterly despised, and most ancient ones ; but 
he had been known to speak tolerantly — even kindly — 
of Balzac, whom, however, he was unable to study in the 
original, owing to that author's unfortunate habit of 
writing his novels in French. According to Octavius, 
there never had been but one musician in the world since 

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Tubal Cain, and that was Wagner. Handel he scorned 
as " stodgy *' aiid Mendelssohn as " tuney ^' ; while as 
for Beethoven and Bach, if he recognised their composi- 
tions at all (which he never could do without a pro- 
gramme) he condemned them wholesale as " out of 
date.'* It was no wonder that little Dagmar Silver- 
thome regarded him as the cleverest man she had ever 
met in her whole life, and especially as he wore a single 
eye-glass, which never fails to have an impressive effect 
upon a woman. Mr. Rainbrow could not see through his 
eye-glass, it is true, but his sight was so excellent that 
he could well afford to sacrifice the vision of one eye 
now and then for the sake of effect. 

But the most popular person in Duncan and Somers's 
office was neither Mr. Duncan nor Mr. Somers, nor yet 
Mr. Alan Wylie — it was the managing clerk, Timothy 
Sprott, who had entered those sacred precincts as office- 
boy fifty years before. 

Mr. Sprott was a small, stout, cherubic-looking per^ 
son, with white hair, rosy cheeks, and the kindest heart 
in the world. For a long time now he had lived in a 
small house at Dinglewood, coming up to Merchester 
every morning by the 8.46 train and returning home 
by the 5.£3 as regular as clock-work; and he was a 
capable and efficient man of business, as well as a most 
faithful and affectionate friend. He had, however, with 
his many excellences, one noteworthy weakness, and that 
was the glamour of romance which he threw retro* 
spectively around his own words and actions. To hear 
Mr. Sprott's actual contributions to any conversation, 
and then to hear the worthy little man's account of the 

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same, was in itself a liberal education in the art of 
dramatic fiction. To listen to what Mr. Sprott said 
that he had said, filled the listener with wonder that so 
much courage and wisdom should be combined in one 
personality ; but to listen to what Mr. Sprott really had 
said — ^well, the efi^ect was hardly the same. And the 
funny part of it was that he believed every word that 
he uttered when he described the event afterwards. 

As Mr. Sprott possessed one weakness in his otherwise 
flawless character, so he had made one mistake in his 
otherwise blameless career. In this he resembled his 
master ; but Mr. Duncan's folly in not having married 
Miss Fallowfield was as nothing compared with Mr. 
Sprott's folly in having married Mrs. Sprott, the one 
error being remedial and the other not. Everybody 
wondered why Mr. Sprott had married his Susanna, and 
nobody wondered more than he did — ^the fact of the 
matter being that in reality Mrs. Sprott had married 

One child was the result of this union — ^the Reverend 
Theophilus. Mrs. Sprott always explained that she 
christened her son Theophilus because he was the gift of 
God. That in that case she ought to have called him 
Theodore was a minor matter, and none of her lady 
friends were sufficiently erudite to notice the mistake; 
but what they did notice — and resent — ^was her tone of 
voice in announcing this truth, which seemed to imply 
that while Theophilus was a heaven-sent blessing, the 
babies of other matrons had been bestowed by an in- 
ferior and less beneficent power. 

Theophilus had been an intelligent, priggish, mouse- 

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faced Kttle boy in spectacles; and he grew up into a 
disagreeable, melancholy, and infallible young man. He 
did well at the Merchester Grammar School — so well 
that Mr. Duncan gave him a scholarship at S. Monica^s 
College, Oxford, the presentation to which was vested 
in the Duncan family. True, Mr. Duncan showed this 
favour to Theophilus chiefly for Timothy's sake, but he 
also believed that the boy would distinguish himself at 
Oxford as he had done at school. Here, however, he was 
disappointed. Theophilus took a pass degree, but that 
was all ; after which he became a clergyman ; and since 
that time had been working as a curate at S. Mark's 
Church, Merchester, waiting for preferment that never 
came : which delay was a problem that sometimes stag- 
gered the faith — though never the self-confidence — of 
both Theophilus and his mother. 

At the time when this story opens Timothy Sprott was 
unhappy — very unhappy indeed — owing to the fact that 
it had been borne in upon his better-half that her son 
was the person selected by Providence and by the gen- 
eral fitness of things to succeed the deceased Hanson as 
vicar of Dinglewood. As Providence and the general 
fitness of things had, according to Mrs. Sprott, fixed 
upon Theophilus, there was now only one person's con- 
sent needed to conclude the transaction, namely. Miss 
Charlotte Fallowfield's ; and Mrs. Sprott believed, and 
did not hesitate to express this belief, that it was Timo- 
thy's duty to point out to the patroness of the living her 
providential path. Now it happened that when the 
fairies presided some sixty year ago over the christen- 
ing of Timothy Sprott, among their numerous gifts — 

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such as perseverance, amiability, unselfishness, cheerful- 
ness, and the like, which they abundantly bestowed — 
they omitted to include that valuable attribute com- 
monly known as ** push," from the lack of which poor 
Timothy had sufi^ered ever since. He could deserve 
good things by his merits, or attain them by his efi^orts ; 
but ask for them from other people, he neither could nor 
would. Mrs. Sprott, on the contrary, sufi^ered from no 
such diffidence; she could and would and usually did; 
and if she did not (owing to lack of opportunity), she 
never ceased to urge her reluctant spouse to do the 
thing which his innocent soul abhorred. Thus Mr. and 
Mrs. Sprott were frequently in the position when " those 
behind cried ^ Forward ! ' and those before cried * Back ! * 
— ^a position always specially uncomfortable for the van- 
guard, as poor Timothy had often discovered. 

On the present occasion Mrs. Sprott gave her hus- 
band no rest night or day, but continually commanded 
him to ask Mr. Duncan to advise Miss Fallowfield to 
bestow upon Theophilus the living of Dinglewood. 
Every morning Mr. Sprott caught the 8.46 with a 
heavy heart, feeling that he should have to put his pride 
in his pocket and his courage in both hands, and ask 
this favour of his chief ere that day's sun had set ; and 
every evening he caught the 6.28 with a still heavier 
one, knowing that he should have to confess to his wife 
that her behest was as yet unfulfilled. 

It was when " I dare not " had waited on ** I would '* 
for several weeks in the soul of Timothy Sprott, that 
one afternoon Mr* Duncan summoned his head clerk into 
his room. 

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" By the way, Sprott, do you happen to know whether 
Miss Fallowfield has taken any steps yet towards filling 
up the vacant living of Dinglewood? " he began. 

** No, sir, no ; not that I know of, that is to say.'* 
Timothy was always very humble in the presence of Mr. 
Duncan. The office-boy in his nature woke up, meta- 
phorically speaking, and touched its hat when he stood 
before one of the partners ; for the thought of his past 
years bred perpetual benediction in the soul of Timothy 
Sprott upon the firm of Duncan and Somers. The 
fairies, who carelessly forgot to give him push, had 
generously endowed Mr. Sprott with that finer quality 
known as gratitude. 

" Well," continued Mr. Duncan, " it is time that she 
did something, or else she will lose the presentation al- 
together, and it will lapse into the hands of the Bishop."^ 

'^ Yes, yes, sir ; that is so, that is so. Six months is^ 
I believe, the limit prescribed my law.'* 

" It has occurred to me, Sprott, that she could not do» 
better than give your son the living of Dinglewood. He 
is a young man of parts, Sprott, distinctly a young 
man of parts ; and his career has been a blameless record 
of indefatigable — and up to now unrecognised — in* 

Mr. Sprott flushed still pinker than his wont, and his 
light blue eyes filled with tears of joy at this tribute 
to his son from the being whom he most revered on? 

"Thank you, sir; thank you more than I can say- 
You, sir, and your father before you, have been the 
kindest friends to me and mine that surely man ever 

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had; and as long as I live I shall never forget your 
kindness — ^never." 

" Tut! tut! Sprott; you make too much of what we 
have done for you, you do, indeed! And certainly I 
can adapt your remark, and say that you in return have 
been the most loyal and faithful servant to us and to the 
firm that man ever had." 

By this time Timothy was so overcome by joy and 
pride that he was past speaking, and could only blow 
his nose ; so Mr. Duncan went on : ** I shall make It a 
point to suggest to Miss Fallowfield that she could not 
do better than appoint your son to fill the vacant incum- 
bency. As I said before, he is a young man — ^and a 
University man, mark you — of decided parts and of 
blameless character. In addition to this he is a native 
of the neighbourhood, and knows all the ins-and-outs of 
everything and everybody, which I consider a most nec- 
essary qualification in the vicar of a country parish ; and 
— which is most important of all — ^hls views are decid- 
edly moderate, not to say broad. Is that not so, 

" Certainly, sir, certainly.'* 

" No ritualistic nonsense about him, eh, Sprott? '' 

"None at all, sir; none at all.'* 

**No leanings toward Rome or Popery?'' 

** Far from it, sir ; far from It. His mother wouldn't 
allow such a thing for a moment." 

**Then don't you think yourself, Sprott, that he 
would be the very man for the place? " 

** Well, sir, it has occurred to me — ^that is to say, Mrs. 
Sprott had mentioned it ^' 

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** Quite so, Sprott, quite so. I admire and appre- 
ciate a mother's natural anxiety upon the subject, and 
I shall make a point of either seeing or writing to Miss 
Fallowfield upon the matter without further loss of time. 
Good-day, good-day; I must not keep you longer or 
you will lose your train." 

The voice of thanksgiving bade Mr. Sprott fall on 
his knees before his benefactor and strive to give utter-* 
ance to some small portion of the gratitude he felt ; but 
the voice of habit and the 5.2S called still louder, and 
Timothy responded to the latter call and fled. 

When he arrived at home he found that Theophilus 
and Mr. and Mrs. Higginson had dropped in to partake 
of that meal which, in the north of England, is known 
as " high tea," but in the Midlands as ** tea with some- 
thing with it." When first Theophilus took Holy 
Orders, Mrs. Sprott had insisted upon dining late, but 
as this unusual arrangement upset both her servant's 
temper and her husband's digestion, the good lady soon 
reverted to her primitive custom of a midday dinner 
and " tea with something with it." The " something " 
on this particular occasion happened to be mutton 

" What delicious mutton chops you have given us, if 
you will excuse my remarking upon them ! " exclaimed 
Mrs. Higginson, when they had duly taken their places 
at table and begun the meal which cheered but not in- 

Mrs. Higginson always inserted an apology in her 
conversations whenever she could find room for one — ^it 
was her idea of good manners. 

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" Capital ! '' echoed her lord and master. " So tender 
and juicy! " 

" The reason for that/' explained the hostess, " is 
that I do not buy chops straight from the butcher as 
you do, Mrs. Higginson, which is a great mistake as 
well as a piece of extravagance. I always buy a large 
portion of the animal at a time, and divide it myself 
into smaller joints.'* 

**Ah, my love, you are an excellent housekeeper," 
murmured Mr. Sprott, as clearly as a mouth full of mut- 
ton-chop would let him. "We do not often see your 
like, do we, Sam? " he added, appealing to his guest. 

** No, we don't," replied Mr. Higginson, in a tone of 
voice which left it doubtful whether he considered this 
a calamity or the reverse. 

" The chops which you are now eating," continued 
Mrs. Sprott, " I cut myself off my own loin. It came 
much cheaper than getting them from the butcher." 
Doubtless it did, but the good lady's mode of expressing 
herself made it seem even more economical than it really 
was. But the suggestion of cannibalism conveyed by 
her remark passed unnoticed by her companions. 

** The remainder of the loin," she added, " will be 
served up as our Sunday dinner." 

**And a great treat it will be, my love — a great 
treat! " ejaculated the ever thankful Timothy. 

" We had mutton chops at home to-day, Mrs. Sprott, 
for lunch," said Mrs. Higginson, " and I must own, if 
you will pardon my saying so^ that they were very in- 
ferior to yours." 

"Ah! you bought them as chops straight from the 

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butcher, and as long as jou do that you will get inferior 
meat and it will cost you more." Mrs. Sprott never 
failed in her self-imposed duty to put other people 

" Lor ! Matilda, why don't you call your dinner 
your dinner when it is your dinner? What's the good 
of gassing about lunch? " asked Mr. Higginson. 

*^ Because, Samuel, as I have so often pointed out to 
you, it is in little things like this that good breeding is 
shown. To call dinner lunch, and chapel church, does 
so add to the finish and refinement of life, and yet costs 
nothing.*' The Higginsons were Nonconformists ; Mr. 
owing to conscientious convictions, and Mrs. to con- 
jugal compulsion. 

** In the same way," continued Mrs. Higginson, with 
a sigh, " I do wish you would not persist in calling me 

** Why not? It's your name." 

" I so much prefer to be called by the French form 
of the name, which is Maude. If you read English his- 
tory, Samuel, you will perceive that the Empress 
Matilda usually called herself Maude, and if an empress 
could do it, why not I? " 

" I know nothing about the habits of empresses," re- 
torted Mr. Higginson with some truth. 

But here Mrs. Sprott began to talk about her own 
afi^airs. She rarely let so long an interval as this pass 
without doing so. " Well, Timothy, and have you seen 
Mr. Duncan to-day and spoken to him about Theophilus 
getting the living of Dinglewood?" There was no 
secrecy between the Higginsons and the Sprotts. Mrs. 

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Sprott's ambitions for Theophilus were as an open book 
to the Higginsons. 

" It will be no use if he has," interjected Theophilus 
in a gloomy voice ; " my usual ill-luck will prevent me 
from getting anything worth having, whatever my 
father may say or may not say. It has always appeared 
to me, Mr. Higginson — and I fancy that I have some 
classical authority for the idea — ^that a malign fate dogs 
the footsteps of certain people. Whatever they do — 
even from the best of motives — turns out to their own 
disadvantage; whatever they desire — ^though it be but 
innocent and even laudable ambition — ^is invariably 
denied them. I am one of those unfortunate persons 
myself, Mr. Higginson." 

"Liver," replied Mr. Higginson. Though a man 
of few words, they were generally to the point. 

But his better-half was more loquacious. " I am 
well aware of what you mean, Theophilus. Ill-luck not 
only pursues individuals, it runs in families. My own 
family — ^the Fitzwilkins — ^were always an ill-starred 
house." Mrs. Higginson^s maiden name had really been 
Wilkinson; in fact, the departed chemist had answered 
to the name of Wilkinson as long as he answered to any- 
thing at all; but since his death and subsequent eleva- 
tion to the rank of doctor, his daughter had changed 
the name to Fitzwilkins, which, she explained, had 
exactly the same meaning and a much more aristocratic 
sound. Li the early days of her married life she had 
urged her husband to call himself Fitzhiggin on a 
similar principle, but Samuel expressed himself so 
strongly on the point that she soon desisted. 

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Here Mrs. Sprott repeated her question in a some- 
what louder tone of voice. " Have you spoken to Mn 
Duncan to-day, Timothy, about Theophilus and the liv- 
ing of Dinglewood?'* 

Mr. Sprott rubbed his hands together in sheer ecstasy 
at being able to answer in the aflBrmative at last. ^* Yes, 
my love, I have, I have. I have spoken quite plainly 
and firmly to Mr. Duncan upon the subject, and I hope 
— I may say I think — that my words will bear fruit. 
It is not often that I rouse myself, but when I do, 
I do.'' 

** It is no use anyone rousing themselves on my be- 
half, I fear," sighed the curate of S. Mark's ; " my ill-i 
luck will be too much for them, whatever they may try 
to do for me." 

" What did you say to Mr. Duncan, Timothy? " de- 
manded Mrs. Sprott. " Empty your mouth and then 
tell us all about it." 

Thus adjured, Mr. Sprott set himself to tell his tale; 
and the strange thing was that he firmly believed all the 
time that he was giving an absolutely literal and correct 
account of what had occurred between himself and his 

" Well, my dear, I happened to be in Mr. Duncan's 
room this afternoon, so I said, ^Mr. Duncan, may I 
embrace this opportunity of saying a word or two to 
you upon a little business of my own?' * Certainly, 
Sprott, certainly,' said he ; he is a very affable gentle- 
man, is Mr. Reginald — always has been since a boy." 

" And what did you say? " asked Mrs. Sprott. 

" What I said was this : * Mr. Duncan,' I said, * I wish 

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to speak a word to you about my son Theophilus, and 
the vacant incumbency of Dinglewood.* ** 

"*^ Quite right ! " applauded Mrs. Sprott. 

^^ * Certainly, Sprott, certainly,' said he ; * in fact, I 
was going to mention that matter to you myself.* 
* Well, sir,' I said, * I cannot help feeling, quite apart 
from my partiality as a father, that my son is the man 
for Dinglewood. A young man of parts, with a Uni- 
versity education, and never anything but a comfort to 
his mother and me from the hour of his birth. And he 
Imows all the Dinglewood people, too,' I said, * and 
that is always a good thing in a country clergyman.' " 

" And what did Mr. Duncan reply?" 

** What he replied, Susanna, was this : * Sprott,' says 
he, * I indorse every word that you've said ; I've always 
cherished the highest opinions of both Theophilus and 
his mother; and I shall make a point of either speaking 
or writing to Miss Fallowfield upon the matter this very 
day.' " 

Mrs. Sprott beamed. "Well, I must say that you 
spoke up well, Timothy." 

Her husband fairly crowed with delight at this trib- 
ute to his powers. " I did my best, Susanna ; I kept 
him to the point, and was firm, very firm, with him. It 
is the only way." 

*^ Theophilus, thank your father for having so exerted 
limself on your behalf." Li spite of his forty years, 
■her almost superstitious reverence for his office, Mrs. 
Sprott never quite realised that her son was grown up. 

"Of course I thank him, and am very grateful to 
him, mother; but it won't be any good — ^you'll see it 

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iron't. Perhaps as a clergyman it may be deemed un- 
seemly on my part and contrary to my orthodox belief 
in an overruling Providence to make use of such ex- 
pressions — even before our old friends the Higginsons — 
as fortime, fate, and luck. But, as you know, mother, 
I always pride myself upon saying what I think, how- 
ever unexpected or even unacceptable it may be; and 
I therefore feel bound to state that to my mind it ap- 
pears obvious that there is such a thing as malignant 
ill-luck, and that I am one of its chosen victims. Mark 
my words, as long as I live I shall never be vicar of 

"One can never tell," remarked Mrs. Higginson in 
an oracular manner. "As the dear Doctor used to 
say, * Those that will get a thing, will get it ; and those 
that won't get it, won't.' I have heard him say it scores 
of times, if you will pardon the quotation ; and may I 
make so bold as to express a hope, Theophilus, that 
your dear mother's wish may be fulfilled, and that we 
may see you filling the pulpit of Dinglewood Church 
ere we are many months older?'* 

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MISS fallowfield's little dinner 

Two or three days after the Sprotts' teaparty The- 
ophilus again bicycled over to Dinglewood to see his 
parents; and as it was late in the afternoon he found 
his father at home as well as his mother. 

** I have come/' he began, after the usual filial salu- 
tations, " to inform you that Miss Fallowfield has invited 
me to dinner at the Hall next Tuesday.^' 

At this great news both Mr. and Mrs. Sprott purred 
with delight. 

"A preliminary step, no doubt," quoth the proud 
father, " to her offering you the living of Dinglewood. 
I felt sure that my words to Mr. Duncan would bear 

" It certainly looks like it," added the equally proud 

But Theophilus as usual shook his head. *^ Build 
no hopes, my dear parents, upon anything good ever 
happening to me. It never has and it never wiU* 
Through no fault of my own, I am a disappointed and 
embittered man ; and I think you can hardly blame me if 
I find a diflSculty in stifling certain feelings of rebellion 
against that Power Which has always treated me with 
such unmerited harshness. It is all very well for those 
who have succeeded in attaining their heart's desire to 


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practise the Christian grace of contentment; but to 
such of us as have learnt lifers lessons in a sterner school, 
resignation and submission do not seem so easy." 

Theophilus never left off preaching, even when he 
was talking to his mother. He carried his pulpit about 
with him wherever he went, as a snail carries its shell. 

Mr. Sprott slapped his depressing son on the back. 
" Don't be so downhearted, my boy, don't be so down- 
hearted. It is when the night is darkest that the luck 
is boimd to turn, and when the tide is at its lowest ebb 
that the morning breaks.*' The worthy man's meta- 
phors might be confused, but his meaning was clear. 

"Have you got your evening-dress all right and 
proper for dining at the Hall? " asked Mrs. Sprott. 

*' How often shall I strive vainly to impress upon you, 
my dear mother, that a clergyman is independent of 
evening dress? As long as he wears the garb of his 
sacred office, he is fit to stand before kings." 

*^But even then he should see that he has a clean 
shirt in the drawer ready for the occasion,*' insisted the 
practical Susanna. " Have you one at your lodgings, 
Theophilus, or shall I send you an extra one from 

" I have plenty, thank you, mother." 

"And what about your high silk waistcoat? Does 
it want ironing? If so, you'd better ride over on your 
bicycle with it to-morrow, and I'll see to it myself," said 
Mrs. Sprott, feeling much the same as Hannah felt 
when she took the annual little coat up to the Temple. 
Human nature — and especially maternal human nature 
— does not vary much with time or place. 

Digiti2ed by 



" It will be a great treat to you to dine at the Hall, 
Theophilus — a very great treat indeed!'* exclaimed 
Mr. Sprott, glowing with that vicarious delight which 
is the chief est joy of parents. 

" It will be no particular joy to me, father. As a 
matter of fact, I do not care for Miss Fallowfield; her 
tongue is too sharp for my taste.'* 

" Never mind her tongue, Theophilus. It is not her 
tongue, but the living of Dinglewood that you have to 
attend to for the present," was the sensible advice of 
Mrs. Sprott. 

" And I do not know that I altogether care about her 

" Never mind her views, either, as long as she takes 
the correct view of you. And even your own views 
might be put on one side just for the present, until you 
have secured the living. What I mean to say is that 
you need not exactly obtrude them unless they are spe- 
cially asked for. Just make yourself agreeable, and 
let views and opinions and things of that kind rest for 
the time being." Poor Mrs. Sprott spoke with the same 
anxiety — she knew her Theophilus. 

But the latter looked shocked. "Do you mean to 
say, mother, that you think I am capable of making 
myself agreeable at the cost of my convictions and 

" No, Theophilus, I do not think you are " (for the 
moment she wished she did), " and that is what is worry- 
ing me. Nobody wants you to sacrifice your convic- 
tions and principles, my dear; that would be a shock- 
ing thing for anyone to do, especially a clergyman. 

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All I mean is that there are occasions when it is not 
necessary to drag out all one's ideas and opinions into 
the light of day — ^when, in fact, it would seem almost 
obtrusive and presumptuous to do so." Mrs. Sprott's 
casuistry was perhaps not of the most exalted order, but 
the mother-love that prompted it was by no means an 
ignoble passion. Thus are good and evil so inextrica- 
bly twined together in human souls that it is impossible 
for any, save One, to separate the wheat from the tares ; 
and it is a great mistake — as well as a vast presumption 
— for others to attempt to do so. 

Tuesday evening duly came — as Tuesday evening 
has a habit of doing if one only waits long enough — 
and Theophilus Sprott presented himself at Dinglewood 
hall at the witching hour of 7.45. 

It was only a small dinner-party, called together for 
the express purpose of sampling Theophilus, and seeing 
if he were indeed — as his mother and Mr. Duncan im- 
agined him to be — ^the right man to rule over Dingle- 
wood parish; and it consisted, in addition to the two 
hostesses, of Mr. Duncan, Octavius Rainbrow, and 
Theophilus himself. The dinner was admirable, as 
Miss Fallowfield's dinners always were; and that lady 
looked very handsome in a dark crimson satin gown 
trimmed with some exquisite old lace, while her niece 
was irresistible in white net abundantly sprinkled with 
silver sequins. 

Miss Fallowfield asked Theophilus to say grace, 
whereupon he offered up a decidedly prosy, not to say 
pompous, petition, having reference to both bodily and 
spiritual food ; and the meal began. 

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** How did you enjoy the Merchester Musical Festi- 
val last week, Mr. Rainbrow? " the hostess asked. " I 
saw you there, and I hear from your uncle that you were 
representing The Mommg Sunset.** 

" I was. Miss Fallowfield. That is to say, I was 
doing my little best — feeble though it might be — ^to 
stem the tide of Philistinism which is flooding the coun- 
try at present; and to teach that hydra-headed mon- 
ster, the British Public, when to nod its heads with ap- 
proval and when to shake them with disgust." 

" How beautifully he does put things ! " said Dag- 
mar to herself. 

But her aunt, being nearly thirty years older than 
she, was less impressionable and more discriminating. 
" And did you find the monster's mouths sufficiently 
tender to the bit? *' she asked. 

" Alas ! no. The continual vandalism of the Victorian 
period has sapped the life of art in England, and left 
it a veritable valley of dry bones." Octavious did not 
know exactly what he meant by this, but the number 
of " v's " in the sentence delighted him. He was always 
prepared to sacrifice all such minor matters as truth 
or sense to the beauties of alliteration. That was his 
idea of style. 

" But I am sure you enjoyed the Festival itself? *' 
Miss Fallowfield continued. 

Octavius shuddered. 

"Enjoy it? It was a period of prolonged and pro- 
crastinated agony to me." 

" What a pity ! Dagmar and I enjoyed it so much, 
didn't we, Dagmar? " 

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**I should just think we did, Aunt Charlotte; and 
especially the Elijah.** 

At this Octavius almost fainted. " The Elijah! 
Enjoyed the Elijah! Good heavens! what will you say 
next? " 

"Oh, I simply loved it!" persisted Dagmar, with 
much courage, considering the authority whom she was 
addressing. " I think all that part is so splaidid when 
the fire doesn't come down and when it does. It excited 
me so that I got quite frightened for fear it shouldn't 
come in the end after all, though of course I knew all 
the time that it really would." 

" Mere claptrap," groaned Octavius ; ** claptrap and 
pantomime! Mendelssohn was no true artist. What 
could be cruder than his treatment of the whole subject 
—except, perhaps, the subject which he treated? " 

Dagmar's eyes open wide with astonishment not un- 
mixed with horror. " But it is out of the Bible," she 
said with a little gasp. 

" So I have heard ; but what can be cruder than the 
Bible? I never read it myself for that reason," replied 

"Ah! there you make a mistake," his uncle inter- 
rupted drily : " it is the most perfect * well of English 
undefiled.' " 

** But I do not care for that kind of English ; it is 
too Saxon for my taste. I do not like pure Saxon. 
Give me the roll and the roar, the pageant and the 
purple, of the Latin tongues." 

" Do you object to Shakespeare on the same grounds, 
may I ask? " Mr. Duncan inquired. 

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"I do,*' replied Octavius the Infallible. "I never 
read him either. My profession — or rather my art — 
IS the writing of perfect English, and I dare not imperil 
my proficiency by infecting my mind with inferior styles* 
According to my ideas, the plays of Shakespeare are no 
more literature than the tunes of Mendelssohn are 
music; they are alike crude; good enough for their 
own times, but not for ours." 

** I see, I see." Mr. Duncan's dryness of tone was 
fitill lost upon his nephew. 

** Shakespeare never touches me," the latter con- 
tinued, " never thrills me with the throb of his own 
humanity. UAUegro leaves me critically cold, and 
11 FenseroBO leaves me profoundly unmoved." 

**But that isn't altogether Shakespeare's fault," 
suggested Miss Fallowfield blandly, " considering that 
Milton wrote them." 

Octavius, however, was unabashed. **Ah! did he?" 
he replied with magnificent indifference; "I always 
confuse the two. To me all the Elizabethan poets are 
alike ; what one wrote, all might have written." 

**And the fact that Milton wasn't an Elizabethan 
doesn't seem to clear the confusion, eh, Octavius? " sug- 
gested Mr. Duncan. 

"Ah! was he not? Possibly you are right. I never 
had a head for dates. To me dates are the dust and 
dry rot of history, and merely serve to confuse the mind 
of the historian." 

** Well, and what did you think of the Festival, Mr. 
Sprott," asked Miss Fallowfield, turning to her other 
guest. ^^I suppose you went a good many times, as 

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you were on the ground?" Miss Fallowfield was an 
excellent hostess, and always managed to include all her 
guests in her conversation. She was a clever woman, 
and one, moreover, strongly imbued with the social 
instinct. Any hitch in the ease and flow of a conversa- 
tion was to her what a wrong note of music is to a 

"No, Miss Fallowfield; I did not go at all. I do 
not approve of music as a handmaid to religion, and I 
therefore never encourage sacred music on any pretext 

" If you shudder at oratorio, I am with you," ex- 
claimed Octavius. ** To my mind oratorio is a relic of 
barbarism — a survival of the stone age. Opera if you 
will, but not oratorio, if you love me ! " 

" Oh, but you are both wrong ! " cried Dagmar. " I 
think nxusic and religion ought always to be mixed up 
together, because they are so like each other somehow ; 
and there is nothing that makes you feel so religious as 
music, when they are the right sort of tunes. I always 
consider the hymns much the most important part of 
the church service." ^ 

"Do you indeed, my dear,'^do *you indeed?" ex- 
claimed Mr. Duncan. '."For my part, I should have 
considered them merely a modem accretion, devoid alike 
of the spirit of worship and the spirit of instruc- 
tion which respectively animate the prayers and the 

"Well, I like them the best anyway," replied Dag- 
mar, as if that settled the matter. 

Octavius put his single eye-glass into one eye and 

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looked at her with the other. " Did I understand you 
to say, Miss Silverthorne, that you call hymn-tunes 
music? " 

" Of course I do. What else can they be? They 
aren't prayers and they aren't sermons." 

"I have known them both," murmured Miss 

** Still, whatever you sing must be music, or else you 
couldn't sing it," said Dagmar, with that little air of 
fmality that became her so well. " So hymns must be 
music, because you sing them." 

Octavius opened his eyes so wide at this statement 
that he failed to retain the precious eye-glass, and it 
fell with a clink against his plate. 

*' Dagmar always loves her hymns in church," said 
Miss Fallowfield, with that smile, half amused and half 
tender, which she reserved for her pretty niece ; ** and 
she sings them with her whole heart." 

" Except when I don't agree with them," added Dag- 
mar, " and then I shut my mouth tight and won't sing 
a word." 

"Very amusing, 'pon my word — ^very quaint and 
amusing indeed ! " exclaimed Mr. Duncan, who pur- 
sued precisely the same course himself with regard to 
the Athanasian Creed ; but then things done by another 
are so essentially different from exactly the same things 
done by one's self. " Ha ! ha ! ha ! So Miss Dagmar is 
among the prophets. And may I inquire what are 
the things that your charming little conscience won't 
allow your sweet little mouth to sing, eh, my dear young 

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** I won't sing hymns that call me a worm, because 
Fm not a worm, as anybody can see ; and I won't sing 
hymns that say I lisp, because I don't lisp, as anybody 
can hear. And then I won't sing warming hymns on 
hot days, or cooling hymns on cold ones." 

Mr. Duncan continued to laugh heartily. The idea 
of Dagmar's declining on conscientious grounds to take 
her own little part in that daily service which had been 
compiled and prescribed for public worship by a State 
Church, struck him as so extremely humorous. ** And 
may I ask what are warming hymns and what are cool- 
ing ones, eh. Miss Dagmar " 

" Oh, don't you know? * Onward, Christian Soldiers * 
is a warming hymn, and only fit for winter days ; and 

* Hark ! hark ! my Soul,' is a cooling one, and only suita- 
ble for summer evenings. The martial ones make you 
nice and warm in cold weather, and the soothing ones 
keep you nice and cool in hot weather. Singing 

* Brightly Gleams Our Banner ' in summer is like eat- 
ing hot boiled beef in June ; and singing * There is a 
Land of Pure Delight ' in winter is like drinking lemon- 
squash on Christmas Day." 

" I do not approve of anything emotional in a re- 
ligious service," said Theophilus ; " it makes it partake 
too much of the nature of a revival." 

" I don't know that it is any the worse for that," 
replied Miss Fallowfield. " Surely the emotions are one 
of the roads by which the soul is reached. It seems to 
me a terrible responsibility to block up any windows 
which let in a single ray of the light of heaven," 

But Theophilus did not agree with her, and said 

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so. ** Pardon me, Miss Fallowfield, but you are totally 
wrong." (It might have been his mother who was 
speaking.) "Any appeal to the senses is an appeal 
to the lowest in us, and is therefore not to be tolerated 
in the cause of truth." 

** Still through the lower we can sometimes reach 
the higher," persisted Miss Fallowfield, " Surely the 
sacramental idea runs through everything, and the 
outward and visible form becomes transformed by the 
inward and spiritual grace into something far better 
than itself. For my part I do not think the emotions 
are sufficiently considered as important factors in the 
life of the soul." 

**A most dangerous doctrine. Miss Fallowfield — a 
most pernicious and dangerous doctrine ! " 

"Do you think so, Mr. Sprott? I cannot see eye 
to eye with you. After all, whether we agree or whether 
we do not agree with the tenets of the Reformed Church, 
we cannot deny that the Church of England has never 
taken the same hold upon the hearts of the English 
people since the Reformation as she took before, simply 
because then she appealed to them through their senses, 
and now she appeals to them through their intellect." 

**A dangerous doctrine," repeated the outraged 
cleric; " Popish and dangerous ! " 

But the lady held her own. " Not at all, Mr. Sprott ! 
Personally I hold that the doctrine of the Anglican 
Church has been far purer and sounder since the Ref- 
ormation — far more in accordance with the teachings 
of the early and primitive Church — than it was in the 
Middle Ages, after it became imbued with Roman ac- 

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cretions and superstitions; but I maintain that though 
the doctrines of the Anglican Church are purer than 
they were then, her methods are less wise and less suc- 
cessful. Understand me: I do not hold with all the 
teaching of the pre-Reformation Church — ^I only hold 
with the manner in which it was taught." 

" I do not approve of forms and ceremonies at all,'' 
said Theophilus ; " they seem to me vain and idolatrous, 
and tend to put the shadow in place of the substance." 

"Don't you think," suggested Miss Fallowfield, 
**that to some natures they convey, by means of the 
shadow, the true meaning of the substance? " 

" No, I do not. To the truly religious mind, forms 
and ceremonies must always be a snare and a stumbling- 

" But what about the irreligious mind? The Church, 
like her Master, comes not to call the righteous but 
sinners to repentance. And may not they be touched 
through their senses and their emotions, when a purely 
moral or intellectual call would leave them unmoved? " 
asked Miss Fallowfield. 

But Theophilus was nothing if not obstinate. " If 
they are only touched through their senses and emo- 
tions they had better not be touched at all," 

Here Mr. Duncan put in a word. " Then how about 
Saint Paul's * all things to all men,' that he by all means 
might gain some, eh, Mr. Sprott? " 

** I have always differed from Saint Paul on that 
point," replied Theophilus, with a finality of manner 
quite equal to Miss Silverthorne herself. 

" Of course," returned the hostess, " I fully agree 

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with you, Mr. Sprott, that to some natures stem sim- 
plicity in all things connected with religion is essential ; 
and by all means let such people retain their stern 
simplicity. Possibly they are the highest type. But if 
there are pther people — and there certainly are — ^who 
can only learn by the seeing eye and not by the under- 
standing heart, then appeal to these persons through 
their senses and emotions.'* 

" And you call yourself a Protestant? '* 
" I do not call myself so, Mr. Sprott, because I dis-« 
like the word; but I am undoubtedly the thing which 
it expresses. What I mean is that the Mediaeval Church 
realised that she was dealing with human nature as a 
whole — that is to say, with men's emotions and senses 
as well as with their minds and spirits — -and she made 
her appeal to all sides of a man ; but the modern Church 
seems to me to deal too exclusively with the purely 
mental and moral part of human nature, and to confine 
its appeals too much to the ethical and intellectual sensi- 
bilities. It was not only the unreformed Church that 
recognised the many-sidedness of human nature and 
dealt with it: the early Methodists learnt the lesson 
in their day, as has the Salvation Army in ours; and 
consequently the common people heard them both 

"Again I think you are utterly wrong," persisted 
Theophilus, " and your instances prove it ; for if there 
are any religious bodies that I disapprove of more than 
the Roman Catholics, they are the so-called Free 
Churches. I detest Nonconformity in any shape what- 

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** I, on the contrary/' retorted Miss Fallowfield, some- 
what warmly, " feel a great interest in, and sympathy 
for. Nonconformity." 

" So do I, so do I,'* echoed Mr. Duncan. " My dear 
mother was a Nonconformist, and she was the best 
woman that ever lived. If there were more like her, 
the world would be a different place from what it is." 
And Mr. Duncan sighed the sigh of deep affection and 
true filial piety. There were wheat-ears as well as tares 
in the soul of this man of the world, and his devotion 
to his mother had been among the richest and ripest 
of them. " In fact," he continued, with a moist eye and 
a softened voice, " I used to go to chapel with her when 
I was a little fellow, and I still feel the greatest interest 
in all shades of Nonconformity." He did not add that 
he also evinced the most substantial sympathy with all 
kinds of Nonconformist charity in Merchester, and that 
he did it for his mother's sake. 

" Then you are much to blame, sir," retorted The* 
ophilus. " I myself have no patience with Dissent of 
any kind, and I consider it a direct sin to encourage 

" Nonconformity is not necessarily schism," replied 
Mr. Duncan with some heat. 

" Pardon me, sir, but I think it is." 

" Considering, Sprott, that my mother was a Non-* 
conformist, you must excuse me if I take exception-— 
and very strong exception — ^to your unwarrantable 
strictures upon Nonconformity. In my opinion Non- 
conformity has produced some of the saints of the 

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But Theophilus was not to be gainsaid. " I have 
nothing to do with your mother, sir — ^no responsibility 
concerning her whatever, nor concerning any heresy 
which she thought fit to sanction. She has doubtless 
discovered her error by this time, and is suffering the 
consequences of it. But I feel that I owe it to myself 
to lift up my voice against mysticism on the one hand 
and sensuousness on the other in all matters connected 
with religion." Here Theophilus glowed with spiritual 
pride, and felt that he was indeed standing before kings 
unashamed. " I belong to that section of the English 
Church which is called * Broad,' and I consider it my 
duty openly to testify against the dangers arising from 
sensuous indulgence in the emotions." 

" Oh, you belong to that party in the Church which 
is called ^ Broad,' do you? " asked Miss Fallowfield. 

"I do ; and I pride myself upon my breadth. In 
fact, I am so broad, so convinced that any point of view 
which is not broad is incorrect and therefore heretical, 
that I would banish from the Church those whose doc- 
trines are less broad than my own. For instance, what 
can be narrower than the Roman view that salvation 
is found only in the Roman Church? And, on the other 
hand, what can be narrower than the Evangelical view 
that the Scriptures must be accepted literally or not at 
all? I feel so strongly the danger arising from the 
narrowness of the High Churchmen on the one hand 
and the Low Churchmen on the other, that, if I had 
my way, I would put down both extremes by law, and 
retain only the Broad Church party as the real Church 
of England." 

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**In fact, if you had your way, you would revive 
the Inquisition,'' suggested Mr. Duncan. 

But Theophilus denied the soft impeachment. " Cer- 
tainly not, sir. The Inquisition was a Roman inven- 
tion, and as such I utterly repudiate it. According to 
my belief, no good thing can come out of Rome." 

" I had no idea you were so broad in your views and 
sympathies, Mr. Sprott," said Miss Fallowfield, in a 
tone of ominous suavity. 

" Ah ! but I am. As I have told you, I abominate 
equally the ceremonialism of the High Churchman and 
the emotionalism of the Evangelical ; and I would punish 
equally all who dabble in these dangerous extremes." 

" You are indeed broad ! " the hostess murmured- 

** I am, Miss Fallowfield, I am thankful to say ; and 
I should have been still broader had I not been so un- 
fortunate in the matter of my education and upbring- 
ing. But that, I must tell you, is my fate ; through no 
fault of my own I am always doomed to ill-luck and 
disappointed. An unfortunate star must have pre- 
sided over my birth." 

" How very inconsiderate of it ! " remarked Miss 
Fallowfield. "And how did this star intermeddle in 
the matter of your education ? " 

" By condemning me to go to Oxford, when all the 
time it was the desire of my heart to go to Cambridge. 
I had no sympathy — and never shall have — ^with the 
spirit of Oxford, that depressing and mediaeval home 
of lost causes and impossible beliefs. I was trammelled 
by its conventions and irritated by its traditions; and 
my character refused to develop and expand in such 

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uncongenial surroundings. In the freer thought and 
wider views of Cambridge I should have been at home ; 
in the narrow ideas and still narrower creeds of Oxford 
I was in a prison-house; and the iron of that prison- 
house entered into my soul. Like every other event in 
my ill-fated career, my university life was one long dis- 
illusion and disappointment. As you know, I was only 
a passman ; but had I gone to Cambridge and pursued 
my own bent, I should doubtless have taken my place 
among the Wranglers. But here, as ever. Fate was 
against me." Theophilus did not forget that it was 
owing to Mr. Duncan's generosity that he had been 
able to go to the university at all — on the contrary, 
he dwelt thus at length upon the subject in order to 
prove to his benefactor that he felt no inclination to 
cringe with gratitude for favours already received. 
He felt that he owed it to himself (and Theophilus was 
ever punctilious to defray to the uttermost farthing 
debts of this description) to show Mr. Duncan that this 
gentleman's benefits evoked no unseemly sense of obliga- 
tion in his protegS*8 manly and independent breast. 
And again that cheerful sensation of standing im- 
ashamed before kings thrilled through the soul of 
Theophilus Sprott. 

Mr. Duncan, however, suddenly (and apparently ir- 
relevantly) changed the subject. " That was an unwise 
prayer of the poet that ' Some power would the giftie 
gie us to see ourselves as others see us,' " he remarked ; 
, " a remarkably unwise prayer for even a poet to offer 
up ! It would make some of us so very uncomfortable.'* 

"Well, fortunately it is a prayer that is never an- 

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swered," retorted Miss Fallowfield quickly ; " or else the 
world would be a less habitable place than it is." 

During the theological discussion the two younger 
members of the party had indulged in a tete-a tete con- 
versation, theology not being one of the subjects in- 
cluded in Mr. Rainbrow's curriculimi for the education 
of the public; but at the mention of the word poett 
Octavius pricked up his ears, as literature and the arts 
came under his own special patronage. 

"What poet offered up that particular petition?'* 
he inquired of his uncle. ^^ I do not altogether recognise 
the quotation." 

"One Burns by name," replied Mr. Duncan, again 
with a certain dryness in his tone ; " probably you have 
never heard of him.*' 

But the maker of public opinion was not to be caught 
napping. " Of course, of course ; how careless of me ! 
One of the labour members, I believe ; the first of them 
who was admitted into the Cabinet. Now that you men- 
tion the name, naturally I recognise the quotation at 
once, but for the moment it escaped me." How well- 
informed he was, Dagmar said to herself ; whatever sub-» 
ject was mentioned, Octavius always seemed to know 
all about it. So thought little Miss Silverthome ; but 
what Mr. Duncan and Miss Fallowfield thought was 
another matter. 

" I hardly think you are justified, however. Miss 
Fallowfield," continued the great critic, " in saying that 
the poet's prayer is never answered." 

" I never came across an instance of it myself." 

"Pardon me. Miss Fallowfield; there you are mis- 

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taken. You have an instance sitting at your own table 
at the present moment in the form of me.'* 

"Indeed; how very interesting!'* The hostess was 
politeness itself. 

" I see myself exactly as others see me," continued 

"WeU, I don't; and I thank the Lord for it!" 
exclaimed Mr. Duncan — ^rather rudely, his nephew 

The latter went on, "I see myself as a man of 
decided gifts, modified by certain limitations." 

*^ Let us hear about the limitations, eh, Octavius? " 

Octavius ignored his uncle's interruption. " I see 
myself as a man richly endowed with the critical fac- 
ulty, yet perhaps a shade too merciless in the exercise 
of it; as a man of great culture and refinement, yet 
perhaps liable to err on the side of fastidiousness ; and 
as a man of such keen perceptions of the beautiful and 
the true, as perchance to be unduly intolerant of the 
inferior and the second best." 

" Such as Shakespeare and the Bible in literature, 
and Handel and Mendelssohn in art," suggested Miss 

" Precisely ; how well you understand ! Now I think 
I have indeed proved to you that I am a living answer 
to the petition of the poet. I wonder what Mr. Sprott's 
views on the subject are," added Octavius, graciously 
turning to his fellow-guest. 

" Very much the same as your own, Mr. Rainbrow. 
I likewise have the gift — I may say the unfortunate gift 
— of seeing myself as I really am. I see a weary and 

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ill-fated man, doomed through no fault of his own to 
perpetual disappointment and failure. I see, alas ! that 
I am not as successful nor as useful a man as I might 
have been; but I also see that my short-comings and 
failings have been the fault of my circumstances and 
not of myself. Had Fate granted me other surround- 
ings I should doubtless have developed into the fine 
character that Nature intended me to be; but I have 
had no chance of developing my gifts or expanding my 
powers. I have never succeeded in doing or gaining 
anything that I wanted, and I do not believe I ever 
shall so succeed. But I have the comfort of knowing 
that it is not my own fault, but the fault of a malign 
Fate which from my very birth has thwarted and fought 
against me." 

" There,'* exclaimed Octavius, " I think that in Mr. 
Sprott as well as in me you find a proof of the efficacy 
of the poet's prayer. You own yourself, uncle, that 
you have not this self-revealing vision ; but what about 
Miss Fallowfield? " 

** Oh, I broke my mirror years ago on purpose.'* 

Octavius sighed. ** A mistake, if you will excuse my 
saying so, my dear lady. I can assure you that it is 
only through clear self-perception that we attain to 
true self -culture." 

Miss Fallowfield smiled. 

"But I am old enough to have learnt that though 
the wisdom of life consists in seeing things as they are, 
the happiness of life consists in seeing things as they 
are not — one's self included." 

"And what about little Miss Dagmar?" asked Mn 

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Duncan, as the hostess rose from the table. ** We must 
hear what she has to say for herself before she goes.** 

"Oh, I wouldn't let other people see me as I see 
myself for anything — ^it's just all the other way about 
with me. I know that I'm nothing like as pretty or as 
nice as people think I am, but I wouldn't for worlds let 
them find it out. I know you all think I am perfectly 
charming, but I'm not really a bit. I only know what 
to wear, and how to put it on, and how to talk, and how 
to look pleasant, and how to do my hair. You all think 
that is prettiness, but it isn't* It's just the trick of 
how it's done." 

" At any rate, you know how to talk to a man," said 
Octavius, speaking as he thought from experience. 

" No, I don't ; I only know how to make a man talk 
to me, which is practically the same thing, and a great 
deal better." 

And, with this parting shot, pretty Miss Dagmar 
followed her aunt out of the room* 

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A WEEK after Miss Fallowfield's little dinner, Dingle- 
wood was thrilled to its centre to hear that the lady 
of the manor had put the matter of the presentation into 
the hands of the Bishop of Merchester; and had, in ac- 
cordance with his lordship's advice, seen fit to appoint 
one, Luke Forrester by name, to the vacant incum- 

Mr. Forrester, it was further reported, had been 
working for many years in a slum parish in the heart 
of the Black Country ; but as he was now getting on in 
life, the Bishop thought it was time for him to be trans- 
ferred to a sphere where there was less work and more 
pay, and therefore appointed him vicar of Dinglewood, 
Finally it was bruited abroad that the new vicar was a^ 
widower with one son; and the maiden hearts of the 
neighbourhood were thrilled with that admixture of 
hope and excitement which the advent of a marriage- 
able cleric never fails to awaken in the breast of mature 

"It is exactly what I expected,*' said Theophilus 
Sprott to his mother soon after the crushing blow had 
fallen ; " or at any rate what I ought to have expected, 
had not delusive hope for the moment blinded my eyes. 
It really seemed to me that at last my liick was about 


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to turn, and that well-earned content and richly- 
deserved happiness were to be the portion of one who 
had endured the buffets of Fortune for so long. But, 
alas ! I miscalculated the relentless and pitiless force of 
that demon which has pursued me from my birth." 
Heavy as the blow had been, it had not succeeded in 
knocking Theophilus out of his pulpit. 

" Yes, it is a bad business altogether,'* replied Mrs. 
Sprott, who — owing to that Hannah-like feeling which 
permeated her soul — ^perhaps felt the disappointment 
even more than her son did. " Are you sure that you 
said nothing to annoy or offend Miss Fallowfield that 
night you dined at the Hall? " 

** Certainly not, my dear mother. As I have already 
informed you, we passed a most pleasant, not to say 
instructive, evening ; and I flatter myself that the little 
I did say upon matters connected with the Church, was 
such as to impress my hearers with the sense of how 
thoroughly fitted I was to undertake the charge of a 

" You'd better have kept clear of religion altogether, 
as I told you to do. It is generally the safest course." 

" Pardon me, my dear mother, but you forget my 
cloth." An absurd accusation on the part of The- 
ophilus, since his cloth, so to speak, blinded the eyes of 
his mother to anything and everything else. ** I cannot 
as a clergyman keep silence upon matters which are 
specially conmiitted to my charge*, and particularly 
when what I consider heresies are being propounded 
before my very face. Then I feel that I owe it to myself 
to speak out." 

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Mrs. Sprott pricked up her ears ; she began to uqder- 
stand the situation a little better, for she was sharp 
enough to know that when men are so very scrupulous 
about defraying what they owe to themselves, the bur- 
den of the expense is apt to fall upon their womankind. 
" Nevertheless, I warned you against speaking out, 
Theophilus, you know I did. It would have been quite 
time enough to speak out when you were safe in Dingle- 
wood pulpit; and there would have been plenty of 
opportunity then." 

Theophilus drew himself up rather huffily. *^A 
clergyman is thie best judge himself of when and when 
not to say the word in season, and I cannot see people 
falling into the pit of Ritualism on the one hand or the 
slough of Dissent on the other without putting out a 
friendly hand to save them. I am sure you mean kindly, 
mother, but, believe me, I am a far better judge than 
you as to what to say and how to say it, and I cannot be 
dictated to upon this matter by anyone.'* 

Mrs. Sprott sighed. She was not always, perhaps, 
a wise woman; but, in spite of her son's reproof, she 
had occasional glimmerings of sense as to what not to 
say and how not to say it; and this was one of the 
occasions. **Well, my dear, it is a disappointment, 
and it is no good pretending that I do not feel it, for 
I do; not for my own sake or your father's, but for 
yours. I should like to see you in a position suited 
to your gifts and powers, where you could freely 
exercise those gifts and powers to the glory of God: 
and I should also like to see you in a more assured 
position pecuniarily speaking ; for although your father 

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has saved a little year by year out of his salary, if 
anything were to happen to him, you and I should be 
but scantily provided for." 

" Well, my dear mother, that is not my fault. For 
my part I do not think that my father was justified in 
marrying upon such slender means as he considered 
adequate. I think he should have remained single imtil 
he had saved sufficient money to endow a family should 
he happen to have one ; but naturally this was a matter 
upon which my opinion was not asked, and for obvious 
reasons could not be offered. As you know, I do not 
approve of early marriages; but if a man will persist 
in marrying before he has saved a nest-egg for himself 
and his possible family, I am convinced that he ought to 
select a lady with some private means of her own.'* 

Mrs. Sprott winced at this ; she had been a governess 
before her marriage. But she did not realise that 
Theophilus was merely behaving according t© the train- 
ing which she herself had bestowed upon him. She had 
carefully implanted in the soul of her son the thorn of 
self-advancement and the thistle of worldly wisdom; 
so it was a little unreasonable of her now to expect to 
gather from these plants the grapes of love or the 
figs of unselfishness. Such an expectation on her part 
argued a culpable ignorance of the elemental principles 
of spiritual horticulture. 

"Do you know anything about your supplanter, 
Theophilus? " she asked, once more wisely changing the 

" Yes, mother, I do. Mr. Forrester has been work- 
ing for years in the Black Country, and is a most un- 

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suitable man for the parish. He is one of those dan- 
gerous clergymen who combine advanced Ritualism with 
vigorous Revivalism; just the kind of man to do imtold 
harm in a country parish by waking up into unpre- 
cedented activity the souls of the people committed to 
his charge, and thus imfitting them for their daily toil 
and humble positions. I have no doubt in my own mind 
that Miss Fallowfield will rue the day when she intro- 
duced such a firebrand as this into the parish of Dingle- 
wood, in spite of the fact that she had to her hand the 
very man for the place.** 

And then Theophilus and his mother proceeded to 
discuss with not unmitigated sorrow the gloomy pros- 
pect opening out before them of the spiritual future 
of Dinglewood. 

It was not long after this that the new vicar and 
his son came and took up their residence at the vicarage, 
thereby — ^although no one knew it at the time — com- 
pletely changing the current of the lives of nearly all 
the people connected with this story. 

Luke Forrester was a man of about fifty, and a 
man who looked considerably older than his years. That 
term which people are so fond of applying to the middle- 
aged, " well-preserved " (as if these latter were a species 
of ginger or candied fruits), was in no way applicable 
to him. He had been willing to spend and to be spent 
in the service of his Master, and the story of this was 
written upon his face. He was tall and thin, with a 
slight stoop, and his hair was fast turning grey. So 
much for his outward appearance. As for the inward 
man, he was one of those rare persons who are abso- 

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lutely unworldly, who have never for an instant bowed 
the knee in the temple of Mammon, and to whom it has 
not even occurred to do so. This rare and all-compell- 
ing quality of unworldliness is not necessarily always 
found in religious persons : it is frequently the preroga- 
tive of the artist and the poet, and is really more a 
natural gift than a Christian grace. In short, it is 
the quintessence of fine fibre and good breeding; and 
sometimes even thoroughly God-fearing people are en- 
tirely lacking in it. But wherever it is found, it holds 
powerful though unconscious sway, for the world is 
ever ready to bow down before the few who utterly de- 
spise it. We are all alike forbidden to love the world 
or the things of the world; but only to some of us is 
it a temptation, while to others of us it is none at all. 
Mr. Forrester was one of the latter. It would never 
have come into his mind to pray that he might be 
saved from caring too much for the things of this 
world; he would as soon have thought of praying that 
he might be saved from dropping his " h's '' or from 
eating peas with a knife. The spirit of worldliness, 
had he ever thought about it at all, would not have 
struck him as being so wrong but as being so vulgar. 
For one thing, he was a man of good family, who had 
always occupied an absolutely secure social position; 
and perhaps sometimes — even sanctified human nature 
still being very human — the knowledge that one's name 
is inscribed in the Lcmded Gentry is a surer antidote 
to undue consideration of the world's opinion than the 
belief that it is written in the Book of Life. 

Luke Forrester had lost his wife when he and she 

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were still young; but a full-length oil-painting of her, 
which always hung in his dining-room, testified to what 
a beautiful woman she must have been. The time came 
when Charlotte Fallowfield envied the original of this 
portrait as she had never envied anyone in her life be- 
fore ; when she felt that she would gladly have bartered 
her fortune for the face which had lighted the world for 
Luke Forrester in the days gone by. But she had to 
learn, as we all have to learn sooner or later, that we 
are called to make the best of the -talents which we have, 
instead of thinking how much better we could have done 
with the talents that are entrusted to other people. 
David may not fight in Saul's armour ; Saul cannot hurl 
the pebble from the sling. It is not ours to choose 
the talents with which we must trade until our Lord 
returns from His journey to a far country; but it is 
ours so to use such talents as He has seen fit to entrust 
to us according to our several ability, that when He 
does return we shall hear Him say " Well done.'* 

Mr. Forrester had one child, a son, whose age was 
twenty-three when the two came to live at Dinglewood. 
Claude Forrester physically resembled his dead mother 
rather than his living father, and was therefore a singu- 
larly handsome young man. There was a warm touch 
about his beauty, as there had been about his mother's, 
which gave the impression that their eyes and lips had 
been kissed by Southern suns. He was tall and dark, 
with thick curly hair and a complexion like a ripe peach ; 
and his eyes were brown and velvety, shaded by curling 
black lashes. 

His profession was that of an architect, and he 

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promised to distinguish himself in his own line ; for he 
was artistic to his finger-tips, and was utterly absorbed 
in the work that he had chosen. 

He was sincerely attached to his father, but all the 
romance of his nature had clustered round the memory 
of his mother, whose gaiety and beauty he could just 
remember. At present her Image was to him the em- 
bodiment of all that was best and brightest and loveliest 
in life — ^the type of that fundamental and eternal joy 
and beauty which are the beginning and the end of all 
things, and which were ordained alike to thrill the piean 
which the morning stars sang together, and the song 
which no man may learn save the hundred and forty and 
four thousand which shall be redeemed from the earth. 

With an almost pagan worship for the beauties of art 
and nature, Claude combined a truly religious instinct, 
so that he was indeed one In heart with those old builders 
and painters who wrought upon their knees for the 
glory of Grod and the beautifying of the world — the only 
spirit in which truly artistic work can be done, if it Is 
to be indeed " a thing of beauty and a joy forever.'* 

Such, then, were the two men who were suddenly set 
down In the midst of Dinglewood for the general up- 
setting and reforming and renovation of that parish, 
and for the imdoing of those faithful if tardy suitors, 
Reginald Dimcan and his nephew Octavlus, who — 
though they were not men enough to carry off their 
respective fair ladles In spite of certain lions in the way 
-—were quite men enough to object very strongly to 
anybody else doing so. 

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i^ye's youno dream 

An intimate friendship quickly sprang up between the 
Hall and the vicarage, after Mr. Forrester and his son 
had settled down at the latter. And before that winter 
was over this friendship promised — ^at any rate in one 
quarter — ^to ripen into love. 

Its course, however, did not run altogether smoothly 
as regards the younger members of the party. There 
was a mutual antagonism, as well as a mutual attraction, 
between Claude Forrester and Dagmar Silverthome. 
The pagan side, so to speak, of Claude's nature re- 
sponded at once to the girPs brightness and beauty; 
but the irresponsible vein in her never failed to jar 
upon that part of his character which was almost monk- 
ish in its austerity. There was nothing of the Puritan 
about the young architect, but there was a great deal 
of the mediaeval monk, two extremes which to the casual 
observer would seem much the same, but which are really 
essentially different. Outwardly the two types ex- 
hibited alike the same uncompromising sternness and 
unbending asceticism; but fundamentally there was a 
great gulf fixed between the domesticated yet unroman- 
tic Puritan, who regarded art as a delusion of the flesh 
and beauty as a snare of the devil, and who hardly dared 
to show any love even towards his wife and children lest 


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he should thereby seem to be putting the creature before 
the Creator; and the mystical and celibate monk, who 
was 'SO absorbed in the entrancing mysteries of his 
spiritual life that he had no time and no inclination for 
earthly ties, and who toiled long and late to master such 
arts as those of painting and sculpture and architecture, 
so that he might thereby illumine the Word of God and 
worship Him in temples made with hands. 

This monastic phase in Claude Forrester's character 
was at constant warfare with Dagmar's thoughts and 
words ; she took nothing seriously, while he took every- 
thing in that manner; and they were both as yet too 
young to have acquired that charity which suffered long 
and is kind, and which is rarely, if ever, an acquisition 
of the twenties. Moreover, Claude was always compar- 
ing Dagmar with his idealised remembrance of his 
mother — ^much to the former's disadvantage. True, 
the girl was merry and young and very beautiful ; but 
so was his mother, he argued, and she was good and wise 
as well. She, he felt sure, would have understood and 
sympathised with that ascetic strain in his nature which 
Dagmar alternately quarrelled with and laughed at. 

On the other hand, Dagmar's easy-going lightheart- 
edness rebelled against the austerity which was an in- 
grained part of Claude's nature ; and whilst he thought 
her too frivolous, she considered him too severe. 

But although she was as yet far from falling in love 
with the vicar's son, her intercourse with him opened 
her eyes to some of Mr. Rainbrow's faults as well as to a 
good many of his own. She had a decided amount of 
natural cleverness, and she was soon able to discover the 

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difference between Claude's thorough knowledge of art 
and Octavius Rainbrow's pretended proficiency in it. 
There is nothing which shows up paste so quickly as 
the appearance on the scene of real diamonds ; and 
Claude's artistic culture was very real as far as it went. 
He was also a well-read and well-informed young man 
all round; he could hardly have lived with his father 
without being so; and Dagmar was quick to compare 
his conversation with the conversation of the worthy 
Octavius, and to discriminate between the two. 

But the awakening of the Sleeping Beauty to intelli- 
gence, if not to love, in no way suited Mr. Rainbrow's 
book. He fully intended eventually to marry Miss Sil- 
verthome when he had enjoyed the freedom and pleasure 
of single life a little longer ; in short, until he was tired 
of it ; and he had no intention of letting any other man 
step in and annex what he considered his own property. 
Although he was foolish enough to believe that he did 
see himself as others saw him, he was wise enough to 
know that this vision should be kept at all costs from the 
eyes of his future wife, wherein he showed a somewhat 
profound knowledge of the ethics of conjugal happi- 
ness ; and he had no idea of allowing " that puppy For- 
rester," as he called him, to teach Dagmar to criticise 
the criticisms of The Morning Sunset. 

Now, as has already been mentioned, there was a cer- 
tain leaven of sense in the lump of Mr. Rainbrow's fool- 
ishness, and this leaven led him to the conclusion that 
when two young (or even older) people of opposite sex 
meet each other every day, and quarrel with one another 
at least three times a week, Cupid is sharpening his 

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arrows, if he has not already fitted one to his bow. Of 
course the little god may not actually shoot — some- 
times he does not — ^but he is at what soldiers call " Men- 
tion," and there is danger abroad. 

So, after long and careful consideration, Octavius 
made up his great mind that it is even better to get a 
thing at once than to lose it altogether; that it is a 
happier fate to marry the woman you love while you are 
still young enough to enjoy yourself, than it is to see 
her married to somebody else. And then he did not for- 
get that hundred thousand pounds which Miss Fallow- 
field had settled upon her niece, and of which she made 
no secret — ^his artistic perceptions were far too clear to 
lose sight of a little detail of that kind. Like the 
Reverend Mr. Sprott, he did not approve of early mar- 
riages as far as his own sex were concerned; but he 
shared that gentleman's opinion that ample means on 
the lady's part to some extent neutralised the objection. 

Therefore one bright, frosty morning, when Octavius 
happened to be staying at his uncle's, he rode over to 
Dinglewood Hall to perform the operation which is 
usually described as " putting a spoke in the wheel " of 
young Forrester. As luck would have it, he overtook 
Miss Silverthome on the highroad, where she was tak- 
ing the daily " constitutional " upon which her aunt in- 
sisted; and he naturally alighted from his horse (or. 
rather from his uncle's horse) and joined her. Now 
the luck which brought about this meeting was not al- 
together favourable to Octavius, for he was a very in- 
ferior horseman, and was always more or less in mortal 
fear of the animal he bestrode. True, on this occasion 

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he no longer bestrode his steed, but he had to lead it, 
and that frightened him still more, as the fear of being 
either kicked or bitten was added to his other terrors of 
being either kicked up into the air or trampled down 
into the ground. He would not have ridden at all if he 
could with any decency have got out of it; but his 
uncle was such an excellent horseman himself, and was 
so contemptuous of all men who were not, that even the 
superb self-complacency of Octavius shrank from show- 
ing the white feather when Mr. Duncan offered him a 

Therefore the environment of his interview with Miss 
Silverthome was by no means a happy one. Like the 
politician who explained that " he was obliged to follow 
his adherents because he was their leader," Mr. Rain- 
"brow had to dance after his uncle's favourite hack in 
any direction that the sweet will of the animal indicated, 
and it must be admitted that the creature's methods were 

" I am very fortunate to have this favourable oppor- 
tunity of a little friendly talk with you, Miss Silver- 
thome,'^ he began, as usual rich in alliterations. He 
did not think it necessary to add that his gratitude was 
augmented by the fact that he had met the vicar's son 
walking towards Merchester some five minutes before 
he overtook Miss Silverthome walking in the opposite 
direction, and he at once jumped to the obvious infer- 
ence (for as the trunk of an elephant can pick up a pin 
as well as uproot a tree, so the great mind of Octavius 
could turn aside from profound criticism of the arts 
and sciences to study the follies and frailties of mere 

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Iiuman nature) that the lady had accompanied the gen- 
tleman for a mile or two on his way. 

" So you may be, Mr. Ralnbrow ; but I am afraid your 
horse does not share your pleasure." 

Dagmar, fresh from a violent quarrel with Claude 
Forrester, found the conversation of Octavius somewhat 

" I have been feeling for some time,'* he continued, 
**that there has arisen some bar or barrier between 
your spirit and mine. There seems to be a discord in 
the harmony of our friendship, a break in the continuity 
of our souls' communion." 

At this point the horse — ^as if to illustrate and ac- 
centuate the last sentence — made an effectual break in 
the continuity of the conversation by darting incon- 
tinently to the other side of the road, Octavius still 
dangling from the bridle like a charm from a watch- 
chain ; and it was some minutes before the skittish ani- 
mal could be induced to allow its leader to walk once 
more by the side of Miss Silverthome. 

When comparative peace was restored (and it was 
only comparative, as the steed walked with a hiccough- 
ing sort of movement which continually threatened to 
drag Octavius's arm out of its socket) that gentleman 
proceeded : 

" I put down this discord in the former harmony of 
our friendship to no fault upon your part, no failing 
upon mine, but to the introduction of a third and un- 
sympathetic factor between us — ^in short, to the intru- 
sion of Mr. Claude Forrester." 

" But he isn't a factor," explained Dagmar, with 

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every appearance of childish innocence; "he is an 

** I care not for his profession ; I am only concerned 
with his practice," replied Octavius, with a wave of his 
hand indicative of the indifference which he felt towards 
the calling of the younger Forrester. But the horse 
mistook the significance of the gesture, regarding it 
as an encouragement to playful mirth, and caracoled 
about the road accordingly. 

V?hen the exuberance of the playful creature was 
once more calmed down, Octavius again attempted ta 
proffer his suit. 

" You see, dear friend, my point is this. Your sym- 
pathy and friendship have meant so much to me that I 
cannot bear that any man — be he architect or other- 
wise — ^should come between us; and this is what I am 
profoundly and painfully convinced that Mr. Forrester 
is doing.*' 

**He is doing nothing of the kind,'* retorted Dag- 
mar. ^^ In the first place his opinions have no effect 
whatever upon me — ^I don't even listen to them — and in 
the second place the mere fact that he thinks a thing 
always makes me think the very opposite on purpose." 

This confession served to raise the spirits of Octavius, 
and would have proved even more consolatory than it 
did had not the horse raised the arm of Octavius still 
higher. While he was endeavouring to regain his equili- 
brium. Miss Silverthome continued: 

'^ I can't think what makes you think I am friends 
with Mr. Forrester, because we are the greatest enemies 
imaginable. I can't bear the sight of him." 

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** Then I can only wonder at the power of feminine 
endurance which makes you so frequently impose upon 
yourself the unendurable, Miss Silverthome.*' 

'^You are quite mistaken/' replied Dagmar with 
natural, and therefore pardonable, indignation, ^^in 
supposing that I see Mr. Claude Forrester so often 
because it is any pleasure to me to do so. I merely do 
it in order to influence for good, if I can, anyone who is 
so prejudiced and misguided.'' 

'^ Of course. Miss Silverthome; feminine unselfishness 
is as proverbial as feminine endurance. But I am 
nevertheless somewhat relieved in my mind to hear that 
you do not agree with all Mr. Forrester's opinions." 

"Agree with them? I should think not! I don't 
agree with a single one — ^I wouldn't do so for anything ; 
and the irritating thing is that all the time I know they 
are right." 

Octavius was unable to reply to this, as at that 
moment he was poised above the ditch on the other side 
of the road. 

** I wouldn't mind agreeing now and then with a man 
if I knew he was wrong," Dagmar went on, more to 
herself than her companion, ** but a man who is always 
right — ^and who knows he is always right — ^is too aggra- 
vating for anything." 

"Perhaps," suggested Mr. Rainbrow, when he was 
once more trotting quietly by the side of his uncle's 
fiery steed, " the young man may learn wisdom by ex- 
perience. He may even become wise enough to be 
wrong sometimes." (A height of wisdom to which the 
speaker himself had never attained.) 

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But the young lady shook her head. " No, he wonH. 
Nobody ever learns anything by experience.*' 

" Pardon me, Miss SUverthorne. I consider experi- 
ence the only accredited teacher. Experientia domum, 
as the Latins have it.*' Among his many accomplish- 
ments Octavius was not a great classic* 

"Well, then, it isn't. Fve never learnt a single 
thing from experience, unless I knew it before the ex- 
perience began." 

Octavius smiled the smile of the superior. "Still, 
your experience has as yet been limited, dear f riend.*' 

" Not in some things ; and the more experience I have 
had the less it has taught me. For instance, I've writ- 
ten the menus for Aunt Charlotte's dinner-parties ever 
since I was a little girl, and I've never written one 
without having to look in the dictionary to see how many 
* I's ' there are in filleted soles. I don't know even now 
how many there are ; and I never shall," Dagmar added 
with triumph. 

" Well, dear Miss Silverthome, let us turn away from 
such trifling matters as menus and Forresters and filleted 
soles to higher subjects: let us talk about ourselves. 
And that brings me to the object of my visit to you to- 
day. I want you to obviate the possibility of Claude 
Forrester or any other man coming between us, by unit- 
ing your lot indissolubly with mine. I want us to be 
one in fact as we are in spirit — one in heart as we are 
now one in soul." 

** Do you mean to say that you want me to marry 
you? " Dagmar was nothing if not direct. 

" That is the dearest wish of my heart." 

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"Well, then, I couldn't possibly do such a thing, so 
it's no good worrying about it any more." 

Octavius started as if a jug of cold water had sud- 
denly been overturned over him, but fortunately the 
horse did not notice this action, but hiccoughed cheerily 
along. " I do not quite grasp your meaning," gasped 
the swain. 

" I only mean that it is absolutely absurd to think of 
my marrying you, so we'd better drop the subject at 
once and talk of something pleasant," replied Dagmar 
with the utmost amiability. 

Octavius exhibited distinct annoyance. "There 
may be reasons against your marrying me. Miss Silver- 
thome — ^though I confess that at present I fail to per- 
ceive them — ^but I cannot see wherein the absurdity of 
the suggestion lies." 

Dagmar began to laugh. " Can't you, really? Well, 
then, if you can't, it is no good my trying to explain it 
to you. If you don't see a joke at once, you'll never 
see it ; nobody ever does." 

" Pardon me, but an offer of marriage is not a joke." 

**Not all of them, perhaps, but a good many are; 
and this seems to me a particularly funny one." 

" I fail to perceive the humour of the situation, al- 
though my unusually keen sense of the ludicrous is one 
of my most distinguishing characteristics." 

Dagmar, with much affability, proceeded to make tlje 
joke plainer. " If you could only see yourself, Mr. 
Rainbrow, you'd see at once how funny you are; I'm 
sure you would." 

Octavius drew himself up with as much dignity as his 

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uncle's horse and his own meagre inches would allow. 
" There is nothing ridiculous in the love of an honest 
man, Miss Silverthome ; it is one of the crowns of your 
sex. I am no false lover, believe me — ^no fickle knight 
who loves and rides away.'* 

This was to6 much altogether for Dagmar's gravity ; 
she burst into a peal of girlish laughter. " I never 
for a moment thought you were, Mr. Rainbrow. You 
don't look much like loving at the present minute, but 
you look still less like riding away. But if you like to 
try it, I don't mind giving you a leg up.*' 

Now six months ago — ^before the Forresters had ever 
set foot in Dinglewood parish — ^Dagmar would no more 
have dared thus to gibe at the art critic of The Mom-' 
mg Su/nset than she would have dared to blaspheme; 
which effect of the baleful influence of Claude was not 
lost upon Mr. Rainbrow, and was resented accordingly. 
To find that his especial young woman looks at him 
through another man's eyes is a most unpleasant ex- 
perience for any mother's son. 

" Then do I understand. Miss Silverthome, that you 
refuse my offer of marriage? " 

" Of course. What else did you expect me to do? " 
replied Dagmar, with the callous cruelty of extreme 

" Then I think I have a right to inquire the reason 
of this refusal. Is it my religious views to which you 
so much object? " Octavius always plumed himself 
upon his scepticism, which was of that simple and child- 
like blend which blindly accepts anything unless it hap- 
pens to be true. 

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Dagmar opened wide her violet eyes in sheer amaze- 

"Good gracious, no! Whatever would a man^s re- 
ligious views have to do with marrying him or not? '* 

The face of Octavius slightly fell- It would have 
been a great gratification to him to regard himself as a 
martyr to his own unfaith. " Then you do not object 
to my religious views?*' he asked, hoping that the 
reply would be in the affirmative after all. 

" Oh dear, no ! Not in the least. Besides, I don't 
know what they are.'* 

Then Octavius did well to be angry. "Not know 
what they are, Miss Silverthome? That I cannot un- 
derstand! I am no double-faced hypocrite, no sancti- 
monious liar, and I have explained to you often enough 
the reasons why my intellect refuses to accept what is 
known as revealed truth.'* 

" I know you have," replied Dagmar penitently, ** but 
I never listened. I didn't understand that you expected 
me to." 

" Did not expect you to listen ! Then what do you 
suppose I talked to you for? " 

** For your own pleasure ; it never occurred to me that 
you were doing it for mine. I'm really most awfully 
sorry to have been so stupid, Mr. Rainbrow, but I never 
listen when people talk about their opinions on religion 
and politics and books and difficult subjects of that 
sort — ^not even Aunt Charlotte, or any other very clever 

The girl's apology was evidently so sincere that Octa- 
vius had no option but to accept it. " Then if it is not 

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ray religious views, is it my profession to which you 
object? " 

" Oh dear, no ! How could I? I think it is splendid 
to know enough about art to be able to write about it, 
although I consider it much cleverer to do things your- 
self than only to write about what other people have 
done**' Again Octavius felt the trail of young For- 
rester over Miss Silverthome's ideas and conversation. 

"Then is it my position, or my lack of worldly 

" Certainly not. I shouldn't care how poor a man 
was if I was in love with him. In fact I think love in a 
cottage would be the greatest fun in the world. An 
eternal picnic. I should simply adore it. And I 
shouldn't mind a bit if the cottage were a yellow-brick 
villa, or even quarters in barracks or a man-of-war." 

" Then if it is not my views or my profession or my 
lack of means that you object to, may I ask what it is? 
I think I have a right to know why you have refused me 
so summarily." 

The horse seemed to think so too, as it ambled along 
quite peacefully now. 

But Dagmar did not agree with it or with its leader. 
** I'd rather not tell you, Mr. Rainbrow, and I shan't." 

" But, dear friend, you must ! I have a right to know." 

** And I've a right to keep it to myself ; and my right 
is as good as yours and better, because I'm a woman." 

" Then, Miss Silverthome, I throw myself upon your 
mercy, and supplicate you to enlighten me as to the 
cause of my rebuff." 

This humble appeal slightly shook Dagmar's deter- 

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xnination. ** Pm afraid there isn't much that you*d call 
mercy in it,*' she said doubtfully. 

" Never mind. Tell me, whatever it is. I am a man, 
and men must ever be strong to wrestle and to endure. 
Tell me, I beseech you." 

At this Dagmar succiunbed. ** Well, then, if you will 
iiave it, it's the shape of your nose." 

Octavius fairly jumped. "The shape of my nose? 
iWhy, what has that to do with the matter? " 

** Everything. Much more than your religious views 
or your social position." 

Mr. Rainbrow felt that the female sex was indeed in- 
comprehensible. **But I do not understand how the 
shape of a man's nose can affect the sort of husband 
that he will make." 

** But it will affect the sort of wife that his wife will 
make if he marries her ; and I couldn't — I really couldn't 
— be a nice, pleasant, agreeable wife to any man if I 
didn't get on with his nose." 

**But you would get used to it in time, whatever 
shape it was,'^ argued Octavius. 

Dagmar sighed. "I know I should, and that's the 
dreadful part of it. I should see it opposite me at 
breakfast every morning of my life. It would be bad 
enough always to have the same nose for breakfast even 
if it was a beauty ; but if it wasn't — oh ! I couldn't stand 
it at any price — ^really and truly I couldn't ! " 

Octavius stroked the offending feature in sorrow 
rather than in anger. " So that is where I fall sort of 
your standard, is it. Miss Silverthome? " 

** Oh ! not short, Mr. Rainbrow ; certainly not short. 

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It's so much too long — that's my difficulty.*' !Aiid real 
regret and sympathy shone in Dagmar's beautiful eyes. 

There was a pause in the conversation. Then, with 
an almost superhuman effort, Octavius thrust his foot 
into the near stirrup, and hoisted himself up once more 
on the back of his uncle's horse. He knew that he was 
beaten — he was clever enough for that — and he realised 
that though a man may be the architect of his own for- 
tune, the plan of his own face is not submitted to him 
until the building is practically finished and it is too late 
for him to interfere with anything except the mere fur- 
nishing. So he cantered recklessly back to Merchester, 
not caring for the moment whether he met with a violent 
death on the way there or not. 

Dagmar walked homewards, feeling really very sorry 
for her lover and very unhappy in her own mind. She 
knew she had been cruel, but how could she have helped 
it? "He made me say the reason," she pleaded with 
herself, " though I didn't want to ; and it isn't his own 
fault that he is so little and ugly, and he really is very 
clever in his own way. But all the same, I couldn't live 
with a nose like that for anything — ^no, not if you was 
to crown me, as Mrs. Peppercorn would say." 

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I^OYE's I«AT£& dbeam 

But while Claude Forrester and Dagmar Silverthome 
were quarrelling gaily along, their two elders were do- 
ing anything but quarrel ; they were fast falling in love 
with each other, but were doing it in that peaceable and 
delicate manner which is the way of middle-aged lovers 
as contrasted with the more sudden and violent methods 
of the young. 

The absolute unworldliness of Luke Forrester's nature 
appealed strongly to the woman who was always being 
made conscious by other people of the fact that she was 
so much richer than most women. He never thought 
of Miss Fallowfield's fortune, and consequently she never 
thought of it while she was in his company. Moreover, 
she had become almost morbid on the point that people 
merely cared for her for the sake of her money, and 
therefore she accepted with the greatest delight the re- 
gard and admiration of a man who so obviously meas- 
ured his friends by what they were and not by what they 
had. A woman's instinct is always very keen with re- 
gard to the men who are in love with her, and she is 
rarely if ever blinded as to the motives which prompt 
their love-making. 

Sometimes of deliberate purpose she carefully draws 
a veil over certain things, but she can generally perceive 
the truth if she is so minded. 


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Then the culture of Mr. Forrester, and his artistic 
taste, were very attractive to Charlotte Fallowfield, 
since to her the intellectual world would always form 
the larger hemisphere of the universe. So she and her 
vicar discussed everything from Shakespeare to the 
musical glasses, and the more they talked to one another 
the more attached to one another did they become. 

Charlotte was wonderfully happy just then. She was 
conscious that she was falling in love with Mr. For- 
rester, and that he was doing the same by her ; and there 
is always something strangely rejuvenating and re- 
vivifying in the birth of a new love. Like the dew of 
the morning and the spring of the year, it is one of 
those new things which never grow old, but are as fresh 
every time that they occur as the meeting of Adam and 
Eve in Paradise, or as the dawn of that first dayspring 
when the morning stars sang together and the sons of 
God shouted for joy. 

There was only one drawback to Charlotte's perfect 
happiness at this time; but she was one of the women 
who never seem to be quite happy without some kind 
of a fly to add flavour to their ointment, or some sort of 
a lion to lend interest to their path. Dear, discontented 
creatures, let us leave them to enjoy their pet flies and 
lions in peace, feeling assured that if we — ^in the kind- 
ness and ignorance of our hearts — ^bestir ourselves to 
remove one of their mountains, they will never rest until 
they have created an adequate mole-hill in its place ! It 
is a mistake on our part to try to straighten the crooked 
and smooth the rough for natures such as these, for we 
shall only put them to the extra trouble of finding 

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another crooked place and of manufacturing a fresh 
rough one, since without a little grievance of some kind 
it is impossible for them to find peace. 

The special crook just now in Charlotte Fallowfield's 
lot was her jealousy of Luke Forrester's dead wife; she 
could not forget that his first love, with all its glamour 
of romance, had been given long ago to a younger and 
fairer woman than she. True, she herself had given 
her early affection to Herbert Wilson; but she would 
not have been a woman — and least of all would she have 
been a woman in love — ^if she had displayed justice and 
reasonableness in dealing with affairs of the heart. 
Love which is tempered by reason is not love at all, but 
is merely esteem or friendship masquerading in the part. 
Good enough things in their way, doubtless, and war- 
ranted to wash and wear, but having very little affinity 
with that fire from heaven which is known by the name 
of love. 

" How beautiful the light of the dying sun always is,'^ 
remarked the vicar to Miss Fallowfield. It was an 
afternoon in early spring, and the two were returning 
to the village from a long country walk. " I think the 
land is never so lovely as at sunset.'* 

" But it is the beauty of death and the loveliness of 

Charlotte would not have been Charlotte if she had 
not found something wrong somewhere. 

" Nay, nay, Miss Fallowfield ; there you are quite mis- 
taken. It is the beauty of life and the loveliness of 
promise. The secret of the glory of the sunset is that it 
is the promise and foretaste of a still fairer to-morrow." 

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'^ I do not think so. It is rather the beauty of the 
blessing which brightens as it takes its flight." 

But Mr. Forrester still shook his head. ^^ I cannot 
agree with you. Hope is an integral part of all real 
beauty. The reason why the spring is so fair is that it 
is the promise of the summer ; the charm of youth lies in 
the fact that it is the promise of something still fairer 
and better — ^the beauty of maturity and the peace of old 

" I see no beauty in maturity or in old age," replied 
Charlotte with a sigh. 

"Because you shut your eyes to the hope in them. 
Do you suppose that the promise, * At eventide it shall 
be light,' means just a beautiful old age and nothing 
more? Not a bit of it. It means that a godly old age 
shall be illumined with that particular light which forma 
the glory of the sunset — the light which is the earnest 
and the forerunner of a still lovelier day to come. As 
a fine sunset invariably prophesies a fair morning, so a 
beautiful old age invariably foretells a glorious to- 
morrow which shall be as this day onFy much more 
abundant. Otherwise the light at eventide would be 
an untruth ; and Nature — like the God of Nature — can- 
not lie." 

"You have the most cheering and comforting 
thoughts, Mr. Forrester." 

** I am very glad you find them so. I could have no 
greater happiness than to feel that I was cheering and 
comforting you. Charlotte, you must know that I love 
you ; will you come to me and be the light of my even- 
tide?" It was characteristic of Luke Forrester that 

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at this moment the thought of Miss Fallowfield's wealth 
and his own poverty never once entered his head. 

Charlotte stood still and held out both her hands. 
" Yes, if you want me,'' she replied simply. 

The vicar took the outstretched hands in his own. 
^ I want you as I want nothing else this side of heaven ; 
and, as God helping me, I will make you as happy as 
you have made me.'' 

So Mr. Forrester and Miss Fallowfield became en- 
gaged, much to the excitement of Dinglewood and the 
surrounding neighbourhood. It was indeed a nine days' 
wonder in the place, and many were the comments 
passed thereon. 

Mr. Duncan was seriously annoyed, and made some 
unpleasant remarks about parsons rushing in where 
lawyers feared to tread. 

** Parsons always know which side their bread is but- 
tered," he said to himself; wherein he showed himself 
singularly ignorant of the subject in hand, for it is in 
their usual lack of knowledge on this matter that one 
of the great secrets of their influence lies. It is the 
fashion nowadays to gibe at the clergy for not being 
good business men or men of affairs. And supposing 
these gibes have some foundation, so much the better 
both for the clergy and for the congregations com- 
mitted to their charge. For the ministers of Christ 
have their citizenship in heaven, and so cannot be ex- 
pected to vie in worldly matters with the ordinary rate- 
payers of the earth. They have something better to do 
than to do the best for themselves ; they have more im- 
portant things to think about than the cares of this 

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world. And if now and then we do come across a parish 
priest who has learnt to differentiate between the but- 
tered and the unbuttered side of his bread, do we rever- 
ence him all the more for his practical knowledge? Not 
we. We rather despise him for such careful rendering 
to Caesar of the things which are Caesar's, when his 
sacred office calls him to deal with the hidden things of 

Mr. Duncan was utterly wrong in his criticism of the 
vicar's love-making. It was solely because Luke For- 
rester did not have his eye upon Miss Fallowfield's for- 
tune that the fortune, with the possessor thereof, fell 
into his hands. Mr. Duncan was so anxious to show 
that he did not care for Charlotte for the sake of her 
money, that he ended by not showing that he cared for 
her at all; which merely proved that in his eyes Miss 
Fallowfield's fortune loomed larger than Miss FaUow- 
field herself. People who are oppressively unworldly 
are generally thoroughly mundane at the core, just as 
people who are obtrusively polite are usually intrinsi- 
cally ill-bred. 

Perhaps the people who were most annoyed by the 
vicar's engagement to Miss Fallowfield were his son and 
her niece, which was but natural. There is always a 
very strong feeling on the part of the young against 
any love-making between their elders, presumably be- 
cause they regard love as their especial privilege and 
pastime, and any indulgence in it of older persons as a 
sort of infringement of copyright. And there is a good 
deal of jealousy mixed up with the disapproval, youth 
being always somewhat prone to jealousy. As we grow 

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older we begin to have faint glimmerings of a sense of 
proportion and a principle of justice, and we realise 
that as only one person can be first with us, so we can 
only expect to be first with one person ; but in the days 
of our youth we gaily expect to receive other's gold in 
exchange for our silver, youth always being more or 
less egotistic; which accounts for its invariable self- 
consciousness and also, perhaps, for its charm ; the dif- 
ference between egotism and selfishness being that ego- 
tism is frequently charming, while selfishness never is. 

Therefore Claude and Dagmar were both dreadfully 
jealous of the middle-aged lovers, as they regarded 
their respective father and aunt as their own especial 

Of course they both intended in due time to sup- 
plant this father and aunt by a wife and a husband of 
their own; but that was a very difi^erent thing from 
the aforesaid father and aunt thus supplanting them. 
In their mutual disapproval of this matrimonial ar- 
rangement the young people were drawn closer together 
than they had ever been before, as at last they had 
found a subject upon which they saw eye to eye. Mu- 
tual approval is a great bond, but it is as nothing 
compared with the still closer tie of mutual disapproval. 
We aU like the people who swell the strain of our own 
particular Te Deum; but we positively love those who 
shout " Amen ! " to our own pet anathemag. 

"I cannot understand how people can trouble their 
heads about love-making when they are as old as that," 
Dagmar confided to Claude one spring morning as the 
two were walking in the fields together ; " it must hardly 

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seem worth while to get married when life is so nearly 

Claude assented with the wonderful freemasonry of a 
contemporary. That is the great charm of people of 
one's own age ; they look at things, as a rule, so exactly 
from one's own point of view, which of coux'se is the only 
reasonable standpoint. 

" When I am Aunt Charlotte's age I shall be think- 
ing more of my funeral than of my wedding," continued 
Dagmar cheerfully. " I shall feel it so much more ap- 
propriate; and, besides, really old people like that 
can't properly fall in love, do you think? " 

" Of course not." Claude spoke very decidedly. 

"And really old people can't properly be fallen in 
love with either," Dagmar went on. " I mean that 
while Aunt Charlotte is too old to fall in love, on the 
other hand Mr. Forrester is too old to be fallen in love 

But here Claude demurred. " Oh ! I'm not so sure 
about that. My father is a very attractive man." 

" I'm sure he has been," Dagmar hastened to make 
peace again, "ages and ages ago; and as a father I 
think he is still quite charming and not at all old. But 
what comes in quite nicely in a father is a little bit out 
of date in a lover, cion't you think? Just as what would 
be quite the right age for a cathedral would be much too 
old for a coat and skirt." 

But Claude was obstinate. *^Men are so much 
younger for their age than women, you see." 

" Oh ! I don't think so at all. They are much older 
because they get bald; and after all they are actually 

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exactly the same age as each other. It Is only a ques- 
tion of looks." 

" But men keep so much younger in their thoughts 
and feelings than women do," persisted Claude. 

" No, they don't — ^indeed they don't. Look at you, 
for instance ; you are hundreds of years older than I am 
to talk to." 

" Well, I really am a good deal older ; you are only 
twenty-one, while I am twenty-four; and of course, be- 
ing a man, I am wiser." 

Dagmar give a little shriek. ** Wiser than me? 
Why, you're nothing like as wise. You are cleverer 
than me, I admit, but what is mere cleverness? " 

" And more grammatical than you, too, I hope," re- 
torted Claude with some bitterness. 

" And what is mere grammar — ^nothing but dry old 
rubbish? I talk plain English, and don't worry my 
head about grammar." 

« Well, then, I do." 

" I know; it's just the sort of thing you would do. 
You've got such a ponderous mind. There's nothing 
elusive about you; you're not at all subtle." 

" I may not be the thing, but I thank Heaven I 
know how to spell the word." 

"And I don't?" retorted Dagmar, with an angry 
toss of her head. 

*' Apparently not. In the last note you wrote to me 
you spelt it * suttle.' " 

" That's how I always spell it." 

" I know ; it's just the sort of thing you would do," 
was Claude's fair retort. 

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** Well, anyhow, you fcaew what I meant ; or, rather, 
you didn't know, because it is the sort of thing you are 
incapable of understanding." 

" Well, at any rate, there is one thing that I really 
am incapable of understanding, and that is how , my 
father can ever put any woman in my dear mother's 
place,*' replied Claude gloomily, returning to the sub- 
ject in hand. 

Dagmar's passing irritation immediately dissolved 
into tender sympathy. When Claude talked to her 
about his mother she was nearer loving him than she had 
any idea of. "Yes, I cannot understand that either. 
I always think it is so beautiful to love once, and so 
horrid to keep on doing so. However many husbands 
I lost, nothing would ever induce me to marry again. 
I'd rather be lonely for the rest of my life than so lower 
my ideal." 

" So would I." 

Once more the twain were in sympathy with each 

** I think it is so beautiful to love once and forever, 
and then to be unhappy for the rest of your life, and 
never to wear anything again but mauves and helio-t 
tropes," exclaimed Dagmar ; " ever so much more beau- 
tiful than marrying and growing stout and living happy 
ever after." 

"Your aunt apparently does not agree with you; 
and yet her lover died." 

" No ; she doesn't inherit a lot of my qualities," Dag- 
mar explained; "but my mother did, and I'm just like 
her. Besides, think of Aunt Charlotte's complexion with 

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mauves and heliotropes ; they wouldn't suit her at all- 
she is much too dark! I consider they are exclusively 
the colours for fair women ; they always make dark ones 
look sallow. And then you must admit that she has been 
a long time marrying again, though she has had hun- 
dreds and hundreds of offers.'' 

** Probably she has. Many people would think her 
a fine-looking woman still." 

** Of course, I dare say for the last twenty years men 
have only wanted to marry her for her money; they'd 
hardly want to marry a woman of over thirty for any- 
thing else. But when she was young they liked her 
for herself, I really believe." Dagmar was magnani- 

" I hope you do not wish to insinuate that my father 
wants to marry her for her money ! " cried Claude, in a 
hurt tone of voice. 

" Of course not," was the soothing reply. ** You see, 
he is quite as old as she is and much plainer, so I'm sure 
he is capable of really liking her for her own sake. 
Lots of old men do ; Mr. Duncan, for instance." Dag- 
mar was bent in all good faith upon making the amende 

** Is he a bachelor or a widower? " 

** A bachelor ; he always has been ever since I can re- 
member," replied the girl. 

** Well, then, I wish to goodness he'd married her be- 
fore my father came on the scene," sighed Claude, as 
the two approached the Hall, and the conversation coi\- 
sequently died a natural death. 

But it was not among the quality alone that Miss Fal- 

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lowfield's engagement was freely discussed; the village 
had much to say upon the subject. 

" I can't say as I altogether approve of it," Mrs. Pep- 
percorn announced to her two friends, Mrs. Maw^r and 
Miss Tovey, who happened to be having tea with her; 
" and yet, on the other hand, I don't see as I can law- 
fully go against it." 

"For my part I never do approve of second mar- 
riages," said Miss Tovey. ** I feel nothing would ever 
induce me to contract a second union myself." 

" Time enough to talk about your second marriage 
when you've accomplished your first, Amelia Tovey,'* 
replied Mrs. Peppercorn, with some justice. 

" And if you've the heart for it then, when you know 
as much about it as I do," added Mrs. Mawer, " you'll 
deserve all the misery you'll get; and I can't say any- 
thing stronger than that, marriage being what it is» 
and this world a wilderness of care." 

** But though I don't approve of second marriages,"^ 
continued the romantic little dressmaker, *' I do not 
wonder at any woman rejoicing in a first. To find a 
man with a new heart and respectable connections, and 
to follow him through the world, must indeed be a full 
cup for a woman." 

"Full indeed and nmning over," murmured Mrs. 
Mawer, with an ominous sigh ; " too full for the tastes 
of some folks. In such cases them that only gets half 
a cup gets the best of it, to my thinking." 

** I always take such a deep interest in anything con- 
cerning love and marriage," said Miss Tovey somewhat 

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There are few things more pathetic than the intense 
interest which single women of a certain type take in 
all affairs of the heart ; but such pathos was lost upon 
Mrs. Peppercorn. This worthy woman had many good 
qualities, but subtlety of sympathy was not one of 

" I don't see what call you've got to feel like that, 
Amelia Tovey,'' she remarked ; ** it is no particular con- 
cern of yours, or ever likely to be." 

Amelia was humble as usual. *^0f course it isn'ti 
Mrs. Peppercorn, dear; but I think matrimony is such 
an interesting subject in the abstract." 

" And some folks would have been easier if they'd left 
it there," groaned Mrs. Mawer. " It would have been 
a sight better for some folks if they'd left it alone alto- 
gether; but it's no good wishing you'd not gone out 
in the rain after you've got wet through." 

**It's no good going out in the rain without an 
umbrella," replied the hostess severely, " and then say- 
ing you mistook it for fine weather. Those that expect 
husbands to be angels shouldn't get married at all ; they 
aren't, and they don't pretend to be. And if they were, 
they'd marry other angels, in which case, begging your 
pardon, Mrs. Mawer, you'd have remained as single 
as you'd have liked to be." 

" But angels don't marry, Mrs. Peppercorn, dear," 
argued Miss Tovey, who always erred on the side of 
taking things too literally. 

" Then it's because they don't get the chance, if they 
happen to be female ones. For my part, I don't believe 
in the women who remain single from choice. I believe 

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they are all part and parcel with the fox who lost his 
tail and then invented dress-improvers, pretending that 
he gained by the transaction,*' 

" But you believe in the women who refuse to marry a ' 
second time, because they loved their husbands so much, 
don't you, Mrs. Peppercorn, dear? " 

** I do ; but not because they loved their husbands so 
much, Amelia Tovey — ^far from it,'' was the grim 

" Them as the Lord has delivered from the house of 
bondage ain't in a hurry to get back into it a second 
time," added Mrs. Mawer, by way of explanation. 

" They are not," assented Mrs. Peppercorn, " not by 
any manner of means. But that's no proof that the 
house of bondage was a first-class residential villa witK 
all the latest improvements laid on, and it's no good pre- 
tending that it is." 

" Of course," Miss Tovey remarked in an extenuat- 
ing manner, "it isn't as if Miss Fallowfield had ever 
been married before." 

The lady of the house shook her head. ** It isn't, 
Amelia ; and so the vicar will find to his cost. If an old 
man must get married, let him choose a woman that's 
been married before, and so knows the lie of the land, as 
you may say. But a woman that's been her own mis- 
tress for close on fifty years — ^well, if she doesn't try to 
be his master, I'm very much mistaken." 

" Them as has been married before are broken in, as 
you might say, to slavery and sorrow," added Mrs- 
Mawer; only, being a Mershire woman, she called it 

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" I hear the wedding Is to be in London," remarked 
Miss Tovey. 

Mrs. Peppercorn put down her tea-cup with a crash, 
so great was her surprise. " You don't say so, Amelia? 
Well, I never ! What a dreadful place for a wedding ! " 

"Yes, Mrs. Peppercorn, dear; London and her 
travelling-dress, and no orange-blossoms nor brides- 

" And quite right at her age, Amelia Tovey. What 
do women of fifty want with bridesmaids and orange- 
blossoms and the like fandanglenients, I should like to 
know? I'm glad to hear that Miss Fallowfield has so 
much sense ; but to be married in such an awful danger- 
ous place as London is mofe than I can stomach; and 
especially when you've the rest of the world and your 
own parish church to choose from." 

"Then do you know London, Mrs. Peppercorn?" 
asked the dressmaker respectfully. 

" I do, Amelia ; only too well. Peppercorn took me 
there once for a week; and I'll never go there again as 
long as I live unless I go in my coffin, which won't be 
my own doing at all, or else it wouldn't be done. Lon- 
don ! The most shamefully over-rated place I was ever 
in in all my life. I can't think why people make such 
a fuss about it; I suppose just because it happens to 
be the fashion." 

** I suppose it is full of sin and wickedness," said Miss 
Tovey, with shuddering interest and fascination. 

Mrs. Peppercorn shook her head. ** It isn't the sin 
and wickedness that I mind, Amelia — ^tl^ey aren't in my 
line, and are never likely to be — but it's the omnibuses. 

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They come down on you just as if the drivers wanted to 
murder you on purpose, which I firmly believe they do ; 
and even if you get into a cab for safety, they are still 
after you, cab or no cab. Every minute you expect to 
be your last, and a violent death into the bargain ! '* 

" Dear, dear, Mrs. Peppercorn ! I don't wonder you 
were upset," sighed Mrs. Mawer. 

** I wasn't upset, as it happened, but I was always ex- 
pecting to be. All the while that I was driving in a 
cab with Peppercorn I divided my time between scream- 
ing and prayer ; so I didn't see much of London.'' 

Mrs. Mawer was still sympathetic. " Dear me, what 
a to-do ! I don't wonder you felt nervous, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn, as you're just the one to come off badly in an 
accident. You'd fall heavy, and a shock is always 
dangerous to stout figures, even if it don't kill them 

** And it cost me no end in missions," continued Mrs. 
Peppercorn, "for I kept vowing that if my life was 
spared by a particular omnibus, I'd give a shilling to 
the missions. And you can^t think what a lot it totted 
up to when the day was done." 

** I think it was very good of you to pay at all, Mrs- 
Peppercorn, dear," remarked Miss Tovey, who had a 
habit of always seeing the best side of her neighbour's 

But Mrs. Peppercorn was not to be led into undue 
spiritual pride. 

•* Not at all, Amelia ; it was only my duty to pay it 
after having promised; and my duty is a thing that 
I never leave undone. What I owe I always pay; 

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and I'm not one to be in debt to anybody, not even 
to my Maker.'* 

** I wonder you didn't ride in the omnibuses them- 
fselves," suggested Mrs, Mawer, not without reason; 
" for surely of the two, it's better to kill other folks than 
to be killed yourself." 

But Mrs. Peppercorn shook her head. ** Nasty, 
dangerous things and so top-heavy. I did ride in them 
once or twice, but I was always jumping about from 
side to side to balance them, and that came more tiring 
than walking. And if they do upset it's a more painful 
death than a cab, there being so much more broken glass 
about to make mince-meat of you. Besides, Peppercorn 
passed the remark that if I did want to spend all my 
time between screaming and praying, he'd sooner I did 
it in a private conveyance than a public one. I was 
less likely to get taken to a lunatic asylum." 

** And that would have been a sad fate for you and 
no mistake," exclaimed Mrs. Mawer ; " and yet lots of 
folks are taken to asylums for far less than that, and 
kept locked up for the rest of their lives, there being no 
outlet but the grave when once you get inside." 

" Well, to my thinking, the folks that are in need of 
lunatic asylums are the folk that go and get married in 
London when they've the rest of the world to get 
married in," replied Mrs. Peppercorn, ** such as Miss 
Fallowfield and our vicar. It's all very well to make up 
your mind to get married in London ; but if you start 
to go to your own wedding you'll probably arrive at 
your own funeral, through having been run over by an 
omnibus on the way," 

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As the time for her wedding drew near, Miss Fallowfield 
was sorely exercised as to the distribution of her prop- 
erty. She knew that her marriage would involve the 
making of some sort of a will ; but what kind of a will 
that was to be she failed now as ever to make up her 

She still intended — after making ample provision for 
her husband and her niece — ^to leave the greater part of 
her vast fortune to charity ; but she could not even yet 
decide the precise charity or charities that she should 
select for her benefactions. 

She longed to discuss the subject fully with Mr. For- 
rester and be guided by his counsel, as she felt that in a 
matter of that kind she could find no more competent 
guide than he; but he told her plainly that he should 
not feel himself justified in offering advice upon so 
important a question without deep and lengthy con- 
sideration; and just now — ^in the full rush of all his 
Lenten duties, and with his marriage immediately after 
Easter to be arranged and prepared for — ^he really had 
not time to give his mind to anything else. Therefore, 
if she wanted his guidance in the matter, it must stand 
over until after their wedding, when they would have 
the leisure and the opportunity to discuss it in full. 


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The vicar wished her to postpone making any will at 
all until together they had arrived at a final decision 
as to the channels whereby her fortune should eventually 
benefit her fellow-creatures ; but Mr. Duncan — ^who was 
always a gentleman, even if a disappointed one — showed 
her that such a course would be extremely unfair to her 
future husband, as there was generally some difficulty 
and unpleasantness as to the disposal of the property of 
those who died intestate. If she left no will at all, and 
her enormous fortune went to her husband as her heir- 
at-law, other claimants — ^in the persons of distant rela- 
tions of herself or of the Wilsons — ^would very likely 
turn up and try to make things disagreeable for him, 
and might even go to the length of suggesting that she 
had made a will, and that he had made away with it. 
While if, on the other hand, she disposed of her own 
property herself, nobody could ever dispute that dis- 
posal. Mr. Duncan knew the seamy side of human 
nature, and he realised how very unpleasant it could be 
for any man — and most of all for a clergyman — ^to be 
exposed to such remarks as were sure to be made if he 
came into a million of money at the death of an intestate 
wife. Therefore the lawyer insisted upon some sort of 
a will being drawn up before Miss Fallowfield's mar- 
riage, and signed immediately after; so that, whatever 
was done with the money, it would be her own doing, 
and not her husband's. 

But what sort of a will was it to be, and where was 
the residue of the fortune to go after Mr. Forrester had 
been amply provided for? They were back Agaia at the 
old impc^se. 

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At last Mr. Duncan suggested a solution of the diffi- 
culty. He proposed that Miss Fallowfield should make 
a temporary will, bequeathing everything — except the 
settlement upon her niece — to her husband, and leaving 
him to dispose of it as he thought right ; for by that time 
Mr. Duncan had seen enough of the vicar to feel sure 
that the interests of charity would be quite safe in his 
hands, and that, as a matter of fact, Mr. Forrester was 
far more competent to dispose of Miss FallowiSeld's 
fortune for the benefit of mankind than was Miss Fal- 
lowfield herself. Then, Mr. Duncan continued, after 
they had been on their honeymoon and had had plenty 
of time to discuss freely the matter, Mrs. Forrester 
could make a new and exhaustive will, in accordance 
with her husband's counsel and advice. 

This course Miss Fallowfield finally decided to pursue, 
and so the matter was settled for the time being. Had 
the astute Mr. Duncan known the trouble and expense 
and general confusion to which his apparently sensible 
suggestion would lead, he would have bitten his tongue 
out before making it. But, unfortunately for everybody 
concerned, he had no premonition as to the results of the 
course he proposed. 

The date fixed for the wedding drew near, and many 
were the plans that had to be made and broken and made 
up again differently ; for Miss Fallowfield had been a 
single woman far too long to be able to abide by a plan 
when once it had been settled upon. 

There is an old saying that women's promises are 
made to be broken. That we may be permitted to 
doubt ; but whatever women's promises may be, the re-f 

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mark certainly applies to women's plans, unless the 
woman is sufficiently young or sufficiently married to be 
in some sort of subjection to a masculine and law-abiding 

At last it was decided that the newly-wedded pair 
should spend their honeymoon in taking a trip to Aus- 
tralia, in order to visit a great exhibition that was be- 
ing held that year in Sydney, as shows of that kind had 
always a very great attraction for Charlotte. Strange 
to say, after they had made all their arrangements they 
discovered that Octavius Rainbrow had taken his pas- 
sage in the same ship, the Euroclydon. The fact was 
that this yoimg gentleman had felt the refusal of Dag- 
mar Silverthome more than anyone would have given 
him credit for. He felt it so much that his health had 
suffered in consequence ; and The Morning Sunset, hav- 
ing deputed him to go as the representative of that 
organ to the Sydney Exhibition, his uncle had offered 
to extend his stay in Australia in order that Octavius 
might forget his woes in a complete change of scene. 

The middle-aged lovers were far too sensible to resent 
the young critic's involuntary intrusion into their 
honeymoon. On the contrary. Miss Fallowfield was 
rather glad of the opportunity of showing kindness to 
a relation of Mr. Duncan's, for she was enough of a 
woman to be quite conscious of her solicitor's feelings 
with regard to her approaching marriage, and to pity 
him accordingly. And when once a woman begins to 
pity a man for not having got what he wanted, she will 
never rest till she has given him something which he 
never wanted at all. It is the feminine idea of justice. 

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Further, it was arranged that while the vicar and his 
bride were on their honeymoon, Miss Perkins — ^who had 
retired from her school on a comfortable competency — 
should come to Dinglewood Hall to take care of Dag- 
mar imtil their return. After that, the girl was to 
live on with her aunt as she had done heretofore, and 
the vicar of course was to make his home at the Hall 
also; but Claude was to remain at the vicarage, and 
there carry on his profession, provided that there 
proved to be enough occupation for a rising young 
architect in those parts. Also the vicarage was still to 
be used for certain of Mr. Forrester's meetings and 
classes, in order to save the villagers the walk through 
the park to the Hall. For the church, with its tapering 
spire, and the vicarage under the shadow of it, stood 
right in the heart of the village close to the old Roman 
road ; and the quaint old lych-gates opened straight on 
to that great thoroughfare which had been a highway 
even before the foimdations of the fourteen-century 
church were laid, 

" I do not altogether approve of that yoimg man be- 
ing alone at the vicarage after his father has hung up 
his hat at the Hall,'' remarked Mrs. Sprott, in the bosom 
of her family ; " yoimg men who live alone are so apt 
to get into mischief." 

" I have lived alone for many years, and I have never 
got into mischief," said Theophilus, in a tone which im- 
plied that he very much wished he had. 

" No, Theophilus," replied his mother ; " but you had 
my early training to support you under temptation, 
and to brace you for the fight." 

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" All the same, mother, the temptations were never to 
anything wopse than grumbling and bad temper, and 
the fight was never against anything more deadly than 
tough meat and an irate landlady. I could have wished 
for foemen worthier of my steel, but it was ordained 

"And how thankful you ought to be that it was," 
added Mrs. Sprott. But Theophilus was not at all 
thankful, and did not pretend to be. 

** Well, whoever lives to see it, evil will come of this 
marriage,'* said Mrs. Sprott. "Ever since Mr. For- 
rester was appointed vicar of Dinglewood Fve known 
that there was trouble in the air. People cannot de- 
liberately do wrong and yet go unpunished." 

" But I do not exactly see where the wrong-doing 
comes in, Susanna," suggested Mr. Sprott timidly. 
*' There is nothing wrong in getting married — quite the 
reverse. In fact, the law does everything to encourage 
matrimony, and permits nothing which interferes with 
it. And I am sure no one has more cause to speak well 
of the holy estate than I, my love," he added by way of 
conciliation, having caught sight of a threatening gleam 
in his Susanna's eye. 

But the gleam was not extinguished by this simple 
ruse. " And did you marry me when I was close on 
fifty and had a million of money, I should like to know? " 

" No, no, my love, certainly not, certainly not." 

** It might have been better for me if you had," The- 
ophilus hinted darkly ; but his mother ignored him and 
went on: 

" There is no wrong-doing in getting married, Timo- 

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thy, given, of course, that the man chooses the right 
woman. But where the wrong-doing comes in is when 
people with grave responsibilities trail those responsi- 
bilities in the dust, and prove themselves unworthy to 
wield the power which Providence has entrusted into 
their hands." Which was Mrs. Sprott's poetical way 
of expressing her belief that Miss Fallowfield had sinned 
against light in not entrusting the living of Dinglewood 
to Theophilus. 

" My dear mother, why persist in blaming Miss Fal- 
lowfield for what was really decreed by Fate? Do you 
suppose that a mere woman had any power to change 
the current of my ill-fortime? She was merely a tool 
in the hand of some unseen force which has thought iSt 
to compass my undoing. Nay, mother, rather blame 
yourself for having brought such an unlucky being into 
the world." 

" It is too late in the day to begin blaming myself 
for that," retorted Mrs. Sprott, with some show of 
reason. " You should have mentioned that forty years 
ago, Theophilus." Here, however, her sweet reason- 
ableness failed her for the moment, as forty years ago 
Theophilus could not talk. 

" I expect Miss FallowiSeld will leave all her money to 
that man and his son, eh, Timothy?" Mrs. Sprott 

" My love, my love, remember, I am not in a position 
to give you any information upon that subject," replied 
Mr. Sprott. Which he certainly was not, as he did not 
possess any to give. He had assisted in the drawing 
up of Miss Fallowfield's settlement, whereby, with the 

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exception of Dagmar's hundred thousand pounds, and a 
moderate fifty thousand upon Mr. Forrester, all that 
lady's large fortune was settled upon herself. But the 
conditions of Miss Fallowfield's will the head of the firm 
had seen fit to keep to himself. 

" Surely it is your duty to tell your wife everything, 

** Not professional secrets, my love ; certainly not 
professional secrets.'* The surest way of keeping a 
secret is not to know it. This safeguard was Mr. 

" It is a fatal error to tell a woman anything," re- 
marked Theophilus. 

" Not at all," retorted his mother, with some heat. 
" In my opinion there should be no reserves between 
husband and wife." 

" If there are, they are the sort of reserves that are 
generally called out in the time of war," said Mr. 
Sprott, rubbing his hands together with pleasure at his 
little joke. 

But the joke fell upon stony groimd, as poor Timo- 
thy's little jokes usually did. Susanna and her son 
were neither provocative nor receptive of wit — ^were 
neither witty themselves, nor the cause of wit in others. 
Yet Mr. Sprott never failed to get in a joke wherever 
he saw what he considered an opening for one. 

** Whenever a man refuses to let his wife know what 
he is doing or thinking, it invariably means that he is 
doing or thinking something that he is fully aware she 
would not approve of," remarked Mrs. Sprott, with 
some wisdom. 

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** It more often means that he is fully aware that, if 
he did tell her, she would be incapable of keeping it to 
herself," argued Theophilus. 

^^ She could keep it to herself fast enough if she 
wanted to," his mother snapped back at him. 

" Then, my dear mother, if women possess that power, 
why do they never exercise it? If you will excuse my 
saying so, I consider that your want of reserve in show- 
ing that you considered me the proper and most suit- 
able man for Dinglewood, militated to a great extent 
against my appointment." 

" Well, I never ! Of all the ungrateful " began 

Mrs. Sprott; but her son interrupted her: 

" I consider that in this case you were the instrument 
employed by a malignant Fate to my undoing. Miss 
Fallowfield must have had some reason for not doing the 
right and obvious thing ; and she could not possibly have 
had any objection to me personally ; therefore I conclude 
that something occurred to prejudice her against me, 
and I can think of nothing but your too outspoken 
wishes on my behalf." 

Here Mr. Sprott endeavoured to smooth matters over. 
" Come, come, Theophilus, you are mistaken there, I 
am sure. A mother's ambition on behalf of her son 
cannot ever be anything but a beautiful and ennobling 

" Not if it is carried to such an extent that it becomes 
a source of destruction." Theophilus was not to be 

But his mother knew better than to argue with him* 
She wisely changed the subject. " The question is, who 

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will Miss Fallowfield leave all her money to now that she 
is married? I doubt not that that yoimg Forrester will 
eventually get the lion's share." 

^^Fortimate young man to have a wealthy step- 
mother ! " exclaimed Theophilus, in a tone of voice which 
conveyed the impression that it was entirely the fault of 
Providence that he himself was not similarly blessed. 
As indeed it was. 

** Well, anyhow, I did my duty in the matter," said 
Mr. Sprott. '^ I spoke plainly to Mr. Duncan, and told 
him that in my opinion, at any rate, the lady's fortune 
should be settled upon herself, so that during her life- 
time neither her husband nor his heirs could meddle with 
it." Mr. Sprott had done nothing of the kind. The 
head of the firm had said very much the same thing ta 
him, and he had meekly acquiesced. But this was his 
idea of repeating a conversation verbatim. 

As a matter of fact it was the bridegroom himself 
who had insisted upon this settlement, backed up by Mr. 
Duncan. Although, owing to the Married Woman's 
Property Act, her husband could not touch Miss Fal- 
lowfield's fortune without her consent, the vicar wished 
it put out of even her own power to impoverish herself 
for him or for anyone else during her lifetime. Mr* 
Forrester did not care an atom. for his wife's wealth. 
He never thought about it unless it was brought directly 
under his notice ; but when it was, he desired to make it 
plain to her and to everybody else concerned that he 
was marrying her for love and not for money. 

As the time of the marriage approached, and as her 
attachment to Luke Forrester increased, Charlotte's. 

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jealousy of her predecessor grew stronger and stronger* 
She was incapable of ever being absolutely happy — some 
natures are — but she might have selected a grievance 
which adequately fulfilled its nature of a grievance and 
yet was not the obsession which her jealousy was fast 
becoming. The more she learned to know and reverence 
the ahnost ideal character of the man who was to be 
her husband, the more did she hate the memory of the 
woman who had been his first love ; and the happier she 
grew in the knowledge of all that Luke Forrester was to 
her, the more did she allow this hatred to fling its shadow 
over her happiness. Latterly she could hardly bear to 
look at the beautiful picture in the dining-room at the 
vicarage, so bitterly did she resent its beauty and charm* 
Sometimes she hdd wondered why the portrait hung in 
the dining-room and not in the vicar's study; but she 
had decided in her own mind that this was but another 
proof of her lover's absolute unselfishness of character 
— ^he wished Claude to share with him the pleasure of ^ 
seeing constantly that lovely and beloved face. 

** I suppose you will want to take that picture up with 
you to the Hall," she said to Mr. Forrester, when he 
and she were busy at the vicarage planning what fur- 
niture was to be removed and what was to remain. And 
try as she would, she could not hide the bitterness in 
her voice. 

The vicar gazed at the portrait for a moment in si- 

^* No, I think not," he replied slowly. 

Charlotte looked surprised. ^* Not take it with 

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" No ; it had better remain here. Claude will like to 
have it." 

For a moment Charlotte's jealousy of the mother was 
turned against the son. How Luke must love his "boy, 
she thought, if he could even give his dead wife's pic- 
ture up to him ! The next instant she was ashamed of 
this passing feeling ; but it had been there all the same. 

It is vain to imagine that we can indulge in any par- 
ticular sin of thought or action, and that the matter 
will stop there. If we open the door to the devil, with 
the idea that he will enter in and then quietly confine 
himself to the apartments we have allotted to him, leav- 
ing the rest of the house free, we shall find ourselves woe- 
fully mistaken ; he will penetrate the place from top to 
bottom when once he has set his cloven hoof inside. We 
cannot wistfully sin in one point, and yet keep the rest 
of our characters pure, for the sin will gradually eat 
into everything, until not a single thought or feeling 
or quality remains untainted. He that is guilty in one 
point is guilty in all, for the guilt infects everything 
with which Jt is brought into contact. We are very 
fond of saying to ourselves, " I know that I indulge in 
this one particular form of wrong-doing, but in all other 
relations of life, thank Heaven ! I am free from blame," 
while we might just as well say, " I admit that I am 
suffering from scarlet fever and that my feet are in- 
fectious; but anybody can shake hands with me with 

Would the latter reply satisfy a medical officer.? 
Then still less will the former one justify us before a 
Higher Tribunal. 

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Thus Charlotte Fallowfield's jealousy of the first Mrs. 
Forrester was gradually eating into her character and 
permeating all her thoughts, and was threatening to 
warp her whole nature if she did not take care. 

But all she said was: "You are very good to 

" I try to be ; I am all that he has, poor boy ! But I 
do not know that this is a special sign of my goodness 
to him, Charlotte." 

•* I think it is a very special sign," retorted Miss Fal- 
lowfield, " to give up to him the portrait of the wife 
whom you adored! I don't see what could well be 

The vicar's face grew sad. " You do not quite un- 
derstand, Charlotte, and I want to make you under- 

" Oh ! I understand well enough," replied Miss Fal- 
lowfield, with an impleasant laugh. " There is nothing 
so very incomprehensible in a man's devotion to the wife 
of his youth and to his only child. The world is full of 
similar cases." She hated herself for being so disagree- 
able, and yet her jealousy goaded her on. She knew 
well enough that nothing slays love so surely as a bitter 
tongue, yet she could not for the life of her put a curb 
on her own. Thus does the demon of jealousy drive its 
victims to their destruction. 

But her lover took no apparent notice of her ill- 

** You do not know the whole story of my married 
life, Charlotte, and I wish you to know it. There 
should be no secrets between husband and wife." 

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" Still I cannot see that your married life with 
another woman is any business of mine." 

**But it is," replied Mr. Forrester, with unshaken 
patience. ** Everything that has to do with me is your 
business, just as everything that has to do with you is 

Charlotte shrugged her shoulders and prepared to 
listen to her lover's rhapsodies over his former wife. 
But the expression of her face was not pleasant to look 

" My first marriage was a mistake," he said slowly — 
** a hopeless and terrible mistake. I have never con- 
fessed as much to anybody before, but I consider that 
you have a right to know everything about me— 6ven 
those things that I would rather not tell." 

"A mistake? Your marriage a mistake?" gasped 
Charlotte. " I do not understand." . 

"There is not much to understand, Charlotte," 
replied Mr. Forrester sorrowfully. ** It is by no means 
an uncommon experience. I fell in love with a beautiful 
face, believing that the soul was as fair as the body that 
it inhabited ; but I soon realised my error. My poor 
wife was not a bad woman, in the accepted sense of the 
word, but she was utterly selfish and shallow and worldly 
and frivolous — the worst kind of wife possible for a 
parish priest." 

" And she did not help you in your work? " 

** Help me? She hindered and thwarted me in every 
way she could, and prided herself upon so doing. After 
I was married I learned that she had never loved me, but 
had married me merely for the sake of a home, as she 

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Google . 


could not get on with her step-mother, and so was com- 
pelled to leave her father's house and seek shelter else- 
where. After a time I irritated her so much that every- 
thing I said or did was a cause of offence to her, and she 
seemed to set herself to see if she could break mj heart. 
I sometimes think that she succeeded." 

Mr. Forrester's face was so sad that Charlotte longed 
to take him in her arms and comfort him; but shame 
held her back. What right had she, with her con- 
temptible and utterly unjustifiable jealousy, to offer 
consolation to one of the saints of the earth? 

" During her life my home was a very wretched one, 
and the shadow of that misery has been upon my spirit 
ever since. I tried my utmost to make her happy ; but 
that was impossible, since my very presence and exist- 
ence were a constant annoyance to her. Sometimes I 
thought of disappearing out of her life altogether and 
leaving her in peace ; but things are not altogether easy 
for a beautiful and flighty young woman who is sep- 
arated from her husband; and, after all, she was the 
woman whom I had sworn to love and cherish. And 
then there was Claude. A man may not shirk his 
responsibilities simply because they have become irk- 
some to him." 

"Does Claude know that you were not happy to- 
gether? " 

** No. Nobody knew but she and I, and now you. 
Nobody else had a right to know. And at the time of 
her death the child was too young to have noticed any- 

** And you never told him? " 

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Mr. Forrester passed his hand over his forehead as if 
in weariness or perplexity. " No. In looking back I 
am not sure that I did right ; but at the time it seemed 
to me that even if the boy had lost his mother in one 
sense, he need not lose her in another, and I decided that 
he should not lose her twice over. Though the actual 
mother had gone, the ideal mother should remain to be 
a guide and an inspiration to him all his life. There is 
nothing so sacred to a man as the memory of a good 
mother, and I had not the heart to take that source 
of comfort away from my motherless boy." 

*'0h! you did right, quite right," exclaimed Char- 
lotte, her face now aglow with enthusiasm and love. 

But the vicar shook his head. "I am not sure. I 
think, perhaps, it is always better to tell the truth at 
all costs, whatever the risks may be ; but at that time I 
believed that I was doing the best thing for Claude in 
telling him much fictitious good of his mother, and in 
letting her become the ideal of perfect womanhood to 
his youthful mind. For there is nothing so bad for a 
; m4n's, character as to think evil of his mother. She 
? shojild* always remain sacred to him, whatever else may 
go. V A man may think evil of his wife, and be none the 
worse for it spiritually; he may know of her wrong- 
doing, and \ yet find .himself and his love for her un- 
changed. But I do not believe that any man can know 
of his mother's wrong-doing without being in some way 
the worse for it — ^without losing something which noth- 
ing can ever bring back. And therefore it Is incum- 
bent upon women who are called to the sacred office of 
motherhood to be careful not to fall short of the mark 

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of their high calling. Like the ministers of Grod, if 
they do so, they are guilty of sacrilege as well as of 

" I am quite certain that you did right," Charlotte 

The vicar sighed deeply. ** I hope I did ; anyway, I 
did it for the best. But I sometimes fear that I shaD 
be coimted among them that say, * Let us do evil that 
good may come,' and in this shall be judged as a 

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XuKE FoEEESTEE and Charlotte Fallowfield were duly 
married after Easter, at that little sanctuary hidden 
away in one of the narrow streets leading from the 
Thames to the Strand — ^that sanctuary which was once 
tiie private chapel to a great palace, and is now all 
that remains of the noble pile raised by an Italian prince 
on the river bank, and made beautiful by him in order 
that he might therein forget his banishment from the 
sunny skies of Italy — ^the Chapel Royal of the Savoy. 

After the quietest of weddings the newly-married 
pair started off on their journey to the Antipodes; 
and Claude and Dagmar — suitably chaperoned by the 
latter's ex-schoolmistress, Miss Perkins — returned to 
Dinglewood, there to possess their souls in patience 
until the bride and bridegroom should come home again. 

Telegrams and letters duly announced Mr. and Mrs. 
Forrester^s progress from one port to another, which 
missives occasioned much intercourse between the Hall 
and the vicarage. Whenever Dagmar heard from her 
aunt, she felt it incumbent upon her to show the letter 
to Claude without any unnecessary delay; and he felt 
just the same towards Dagmar whenever he received 
a communication from his father. Having once formed 
this conception of their duty to each other, it was beau- 


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tiful to see how set these two young persons were upon 
amply fulfilling it. Even in the minds of those onlookers 
who considered the idea itself a somewhat exaggerated 
one, the young couple's perseverance in carrying it out 
could not fail to excite approval and admiration. It is 
always pleasing to see devotion to duty displayed on the 
part of the young. 

And naturally the conversation of Miss Silverthome 
and Mr. Forrester, Junior, did not confine itself to the 
news of their wandering relations. They discussed — as 
they had discussed heretofore — every subject under the 
sun, unadulterated — in the splendid confidence of youth 
— iy any chance ignorance of the matter in hand, which 
might have hampered more mature conversationalists. 

Architecture was one of their favourite themes ; that 
is to say, it was Claude's favourite, and Dagmar, like 
a true woman, fell in with his mood. The woman who 
talks to a man about what interests her rather than what 
interests him, is either a bom old maid or else supremely 
happily married. 

** Of all the arts, I consider architecture the highest, 
because it is the one most closely allied to religious 
faith." It was Claude who spoke. 

"Oh! I don't agree with you." Dagmar would 
hardly have been Dagmar if she had. ** Think of music 
and painting, and all the Madonnas and oratorios ; they 
are quite as sacred in their way as abbeys and minsters 
— small, of course, but quite as religious." 

** Nevertheless you will find, if you study the subject, 
that the ages of architecture have been the ages of faith, 
and that as soon as faith grew dim, architecture became 

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debased. Faith was a living force in the Middle Ages ; 
and look at the minsters and cathedrals of that day! 
At the present time faith is not much more than a desid 
letter, and now we can hardly build, decently, a parish 

"I must allow that new churches aren't to be 
compared with old ones for looks,'' Dagmar deigned 
to admit, "though I don't think they are quite so 

"They are not to be compared with old ones, be- 
cause the faith of to-day is dim compared with the 
faith of yesterday. Of all the arts architecture is the 
one in which, metaphorically speaking, it is most neces- 
sary for the artist to work on his knees. Temples 
made with hands must be temples indeed, or else they 
sink to the level of concert halls and public libraries." 

" A good many London churches look just like con- 
cert halls. I mean those carpeted, drawing-roomy 
churches that never seem quite the thing for Sunday use. 
Now S. George's, Hanover Square, is just the place for 
weddings, but I don't think it would be at all suitable 
for a really religious service," said Dagmar, with quite 
unconscious irony. 

** You mean the Greorgian churches, which were built 
when religion was at a lower ebb than it even is to-day. 
Which just proves my point. Faith was at its darkest 
in the eighteenth century, and architecture at its worst 
at that time. Since the Evangelical Revival and the 
Tractarian Movement, faith has again revived, and, 
consequently, architecture has improved; but as yet 
we are, alas! far from the simple belief and the glori- 

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ous architecture of the pre-Reformation era ! " And 
Claude sighed as he thought of the days that were no 

For the first few weeks after Miss Fallowfield's wed- 
ding, life at Dinglewood went on in a pleasing and 
peaceful fashion, enlivened by accounts of how the 
travellers fared ; for after Claude and Dagmar had duly 
devoured the epistles from foreign parts, those docu- 
ments were read aloud at the weekly sewing-parties, 
in order that the sober and godly matrons of the parish 
might have their minds enlarged by their vicar's ex- 
periences. But after a time these communications sud- 
denly ceased. At first neither Mr. Duncan nor the 
young people felt any anxiety upon the matter; but 
as the days passed by without bringing any further 
news of the wayfarers, they began to grow alarmed. 
Then their anxiety was increased by the public notifica- 
tion that the Euroclydon had not touched at any port, 
nor been sighted by any other vessel, since she left 
Colombo. And, finally, Mr. Duncan had to ride over 
to Dinglewood and break to the two young people the 
sad news that a merchant ship had discovered the wreck 
of the Euroclydon floating about in the Indian Ocean, 
with no sign of life upon her. She had evidently been 
capsized by one of the sudden and violent tropical 
storms which infest those seas, and all on board had 

At first Dagmar was utterly prostrated by the blow; 
and Claude did not fare much better. But after a few 
days the glorious vitality and elasticity of youth as- 
serted themselves, and the two were able to see Mr. 

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Duncan with regard to their business affairs — ^which 
just now were highly startling and important. 

Dagmar looked very sweet and childish in her new 
mourning as she received Mr. Duncan; and Claude's 
handsome face was white and drawn. There was some- 
thing rather touching and pathetic in the sight of the 
two young creatures left so utterly alone and with 
such grave responsibilities crowding upon them; and 
the kindly heart, which Mr. Duncan kept concealed 
under a somewhat stiff and stately manner, softened 
to them at once. He made up his mind that hencefor- 
ward he would do all in his power to help them both 
in the difficult path which was opening out before their 
inexperienced feet. 

But perhaps the one who was most altered by the 
shock was Mr. Duncan himself. His imposing figure 
seemed to have shrunk and grown shorter, and some of 
the keenness had faded out of his grey eyes. In his 
way the lawyer had been very fond of his nephew, and 
had intended to make Octavius his heir, so that he felt 
the young man's death as a real sorrow. And he also 
considered himself in a way responsible for it, as it 
was he who had urged Octavius to take* the trip, and 
had provided him with funds to extend it. Moreover, 
Mr. Duncan had loved Charlotte Fallowfield ever since 
the far-off days when she first came to him and asked 
him to help her in the management of her newly-acquired 
fortune ; and the fact that he had never loved her quite 
as much as he loved himself (otherwise he would have 
put his false pride in his pocket and married her), did 
not prevent his having loved her a good deal. Al- 

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though he would not ask Miss Fallowfield to be his wife, 
she had been for many years now his closest and dearest 
friend ; and it is hard to lose friends when one gets to 
Mr. Duncan's age, and still harder to replace them. 

We all learn as we get older that the manufacture 
of new friends grows less and less easy as the years roll 
on. We still make them now and again, but not as we 
made them in our teens and twenties, when the doing 
thereof was but as child's play. It has become uphiU 
work. With a great sum of tact and trouble and sym- 
pathy and effort we nowadays obtain the freedom of 
friendship ; but the friends of our youth were free-bom. 
A considerable and exaggerated amovmt of sentimental 
nonsense is floating about the world with regard to 
first love and the like ; but there is something in it, after 
all. And what applies to first love applies still more 
to first friendships — ^to those delightful and unbreaka- 
ble ties which we formed before there " passed away a 
glory from the earth," and things " faded into the light 
of common day." There is, and always must be, a 
certain glamour about Love, wherever and whenever we 
may happen to meet him. Even though we ourselves 
be old and weary, we shall still catch something of his 
atmosphere of eternal youth; although it is doubtful 
whether the fairy princes will be quite so fairylike, or 
the sleeping beauties quite so fair, if we meet them upon 
the western slopes after we have crossed the brow of 
the hill, as they would have been had they greeted us 
on our upward way in the rosy light of the morning. 
But about friendships made in middle-life there is no 
glamour at all. Esteem there may be, and affection 

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and confidence and sympathy, but there is none of that 
silvery halo and that golden haze which enveloped the 
friendships of earlier days. It is when we can say to 
them " Do you remember? ** that we prize our friends 
the most. 

Therefore the fact that the friendly bond between 
Reginald Duncan and Charlotte Fallowfield had been 
formed when they both were stiU on the sunny side of 
thirty, made the death of Mrs. Forrester an irreparable 
loss to Mr. Duncan. To him she was still the clever 
and handsome and somewhat discontented girl who had 
come to him for wise counsel and guidance; just as to 
her he had never been anything else but the stately and 
courteous and competent young lawyer, who was sensible 
enough to fall in love with her, but not quite sensible 
enough to tell her so. 

Of the three people gathered together in the cheerful 
morning-room of the Hall — that room where Charlotte 
Fallowfield had so often entertained her friends with ex- 
cellent tea and still more excellent conversation — the 
one most in need of comfort and yet the least likely to 
receive it was Mr. Duncan. The room was so full of 
memories of Charlotte that he could hardly bear to 
remain in it : every picture and every piece of furniture 
seemed to bring him some sort of message from her. 
For Miss Fallowfield had been abundantly endowed with 
the quality called personality. She might sometimes 
have been discontented, but she was never dull; and it 
is the people who are never dull that leave the most 
yawning gaps behind them when they pass on from this 
stage of existence to another. Even though Dagmar 

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was still there in the plenitude of her youth and beauty, 
Dinglewood Hall seemed empty without Charlotte's 
vigorous presence. As long as she was in it, the big 
house was full and cheerful enough; but the mistress 
being dead and gone, every room appeared vacant and 

" I have come to talk over some business with you 
both,*' said Mr. Duncan, when the three were seated, 
and Dagmar had wept her little weep at seeing him. 
** They are very important matters, and cannot be al- 
lowed to stand over any longer.'* 

" Fm glad you've come," said Dagmar, with a sob. 
** You can tell us what to do. I can never do anything 
without being told; and now that Aunt Charlotte is 
gone I don't know who is to tell me." 

^ I cannot tell you what to do, my dear child. You 
are of age, and so must settle that for yourself. But 
I shall always be ready and willing to give both to 
you and to Forrester here any help or advice in my 

** Thank you, sir," replied Claude, while Dagmar 
mopped her eyes. 

Mr. Duncan cleared his throat, and went on : '^ I must 
first explain matters a little. You probably know. 
Miss Dagmar, that your aunt could never quite make 
up her mind how to dispose of her large property. She 
had not yet done so at the time of her marriage. So, 
acting under my advice, she made a temporary will, 
leaving everything to her husband." 

" What is a tem-temporary will? " asked Dagmar, 
with a little catch in her voice. 

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"It 18 a will which is not intended to stand per- 
manently, but is merely made to bridge over the inter-^ 
val while another and a lasting will is in course of 
preparation. You aunt intended to talk over the ques- 
tion fully with her husband, and then, on her return 
home, to make a will disposing, as he and she' agreed 
was right, of her vast f ortime. In the meantime she 
made a short will leaving everything to him; so that, 
in case anything happened to her before she made her 
further will, she could give him her instructions as to 
how finally to dispose of the property. I think I may 
say,'* added Mr. Duncan, turning to Claude, "that 
this proves what a very high opinion I entertained of 
your lamented father. I knew that the slightest wish 
expressed by his wife would be as binding upon him as 
an Act of Parliament, even though so large a sum of 
money was at stake. He was one of the few men I 
have met in my life whom I trusted absolutely.** 

Claude's eyes filled with tears, but he could not 

"But I never foresaw,*' Mr. Duncan continued, 
*^such a catastrophe as this which has happened. 
Otherwise I should naturally have offered very difi^erent 

"Why?'' asked Dagmar. "I don't see that Mr. 
Forrester being dead makes him any the less trust- 

**0f course not, my dear young lady — ^who sug- 
gested such a thing? But the difficulty is this: If 
Mrs. Forrester survived her husband, the will lapsed, 
and she practically died intestate ; in which case all her 

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property reverts to you as her next of km : but if, on 
the other hand, Mr. Forrester survived his wife, the 
property became his, and now goes to his son and 
heir-at-law. And the question is, which of the two 
died first." 

"But they both died at the same time," argued 

** Practically so, my dear child, but hardly identi- 
cally. And if one survived the other by a few min- 
utes, that would alter the disposition of the property." 

Claude rose from his seat. ** But it would be absurd 
for the money to come to me, who was nothing at all 
to Mrs. Forrester, and not to go to her own niece, who 
was like a daughter to her! I cannot see that the 
point admits of argument." 

*' But the law does, my dear Forrester ; and by the 
law we must stand or fall." 

** But supposing I decline to take the money, and 
insist on handing it over to Miss Silverthome? " 

** You can neither decline nor insist until it is yours. 
Then you can do what you like," replied Mr. Duncan. 

** But surely I can resign my claim to it? " 

" Not until you have a claim to resign ; neither can 
you hand over to Miss Silverthome what is legally her 
own. The question to be decided is, does the fortune 
belong by right to you or to her? When that is de- 
cided, you and she can settle the matter between you 
as to what becomes of it." 

** Nothing would induce me to touch what I consider 
legally belongs to Miss Silverthome," persisted Claude. 

" If it does belong legally to Miss Silverthome, no- 

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body will ask you to touch it,'* replied Mr. Duncan* 
quietly. " The question Is, to whom does it legally 
belong? By the way, I ought to tell you that the 
hundred thousand pounds originally left to Miss Dag- 
mar goes to her all right, and the marriage settlement 
was so worded that the fifty thousand settled upon your 
father comes to you. The difficulty is about the re- 
maining eight hundred and fifty thousand pounds.'' 

"Well, whoever gets it, it will all have to be spent 
in charity. Aunt Charlotte always said it would,'* 
remarked Dagmar, thereby giving the first blow to 
Claude's determination not to accept the money. 

**Will it?" he asked quickly, his face suddenly 
aglow ; for across his mind there flashed the possibility 
that at last his most cherished day-<lream might come 
true, and his fairest air-castle assume material form. 

"Of course. I've heard Aunt Charlotte say hun- 
dreds and hundreds of times that she should leave every 
penny she had to charity, and that a hundred thousand 
pounds was all I must ever expect from her, because 
she didn't want me to be married for my money. And 
I might be, all the same, as that is quite a large for- 
tune for a woman ; but she couldn't bear to feel that I 
hadn't enough to make me as comfortable as when Ii 
was living with her." And Dagmar wept afresh at the 
memory of her aunt's thoughtful kindness. 

" But I must make it clear to you both," explained 
Mr. Duncan, " that there is nothing in Mrs. Forrester's 
will to that effect; and a wish merely expressed in 
words has no legal standing. Therefore it is not bind- 
ing upon either of you that the majority of this for- 

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tune sKall be devoted to charitable purposes. It will 
belong absolutely to the one of you which inherits it, 
to do with it exactly as he or she may choose.*' 

** Well, I don't think that's fair," exclaimed the girl. 
*' Surely people can do what they like with their own ! '* 

" Certainly, my dear young lady. That is what I 
am trying to explain to you." 

" Then Aunt Charlotte had the right to give all her 
money to charity if she wanted to." 

"Certainly she had, but she did not avail herself 
of that right. All the law has to deal with is the will 
as it stands, and in it there is no mention of any legacies 
to charity." 

" But surely Miss Silverthome is right," said Claude ; 
*' and my step-mother's heir is bound to carry out my 
step-mother's wishes." 

" Not unless he or she may choose to do so. There 
18 nothing compulsory in the matter." 

" I should consider myself so bound were I to suc- 
ceed to the fortune," added Claude, wavering still more 
in his decision to hand the same over to Dagmar. Im- 
agination works swiftly; and already his day-dreams 
were assuming a tangible shape. 

"And so should I. I know exactly what I should 
spend it in. I've often built castles in the air of how 
I should lay out a fortune in charity if I'd one to lay." 

" Oh ! you can't have made up your mind already as 

to the best way in which to expend a fortune such as 

this," expostulated Claude, who had already made up 


^ " Yes, I can. I've always had lovely schemes of how 

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I could make hundreds and hundreds of people happy 
if only I'd heaps and heaps of money.'' 

But here Mr. Duncan stayed the tide of argument. 
*^ It will be time to think and talk about how the money 
is to be spent when we know who will have the spending 
of it." 

"And how will you find that out?** was Dagmar's 
pertinent question. " If nobody knows whether Aunt 
Charlotte or Mr. Forrester was drowned first, who is 
going to tell us? And, besides, I believe that every- 
body in a wreck is so fussed that they don't really 
know themselves who is drowned first." And once more 
the girl began to sob at the picture which her words 
conjured up. 

Mr. Duncan patted her hand kindly. *^ There, there, 
my dear; don't cry, don't cry. The matter will have 
to be tried before the Probate Court, and it will adjudi- 
cate the fortime as it finds the law directs in cases such 
as this. But whether, in the eye of the law, you or 
Forrester is the rightful heir, I have not the slightest 
idea. That only time will show." 

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The Dorcas-meetlng which was held in the week fol- 
lowing the announcement of the wreck of the Eurocly- 
don was thrilled to its very foundations by the sad 
news. It was of no use for Mrs. Sprott to take the 
" History of the Prayer Book " out of her reticule and 
wave it aloft in an inviting manner — the meeting had 
so much to talk about that it meant to talk, and would 
not put up with reading aloud. At the present mo- 
ment Dinglewood was far more interested in the end of 
her vicar than in the beginning of her Church, and she 
intended to discuss that end without let or hindrance. 
So Mrs. Sprott — ^who, in spite of her many limitations, 
was not altogether devoid of wisdom — decided to make 
a virtue of necessity, and to lead a movement which she 
was powerless to stem. As long as she was the gen- 
eral in command of an army, she never much minded 
what that army was fighting for. She could march in 
any direction, provided that she led the forces. 

" We are all so greatly upset by this terrible news," 
she remarked, "that it is useless to attempt reading 
aloud this afternoon. Our minds are too full of sorrow 
and regret to be able to assimilate any extraneous 


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**We are indeed," added Mrs. Higglnson, ably sec- 
onding her friend ; " I do not know when I have been 
so much distressed — certainly not since the death of 
the late Lord Oversight, one of dear papa's most valued 
patients." (The deceased nobleman's studgroom had 
purchased from the departed chemist all the drugs used 
in the stable department.) ** But, as the doctor used 
so often to say, ^ Accidents will happen to all.' " 

*^ Not such bad accidents as this, though," objected 
Mrs. Peppercorn ; " or else nobody would be alive out- 
side of Noah's Ark." 

Mrs. Mawer sighed her customary sigh. She was 
always so depressed, even when nothing was the matter, 
that she found it difficult to augment that depression 
when anything was. " It is the lot of all," she re- 
marked, " and we must all come to it sooner or later ; and 
the happier we seem at the time, the more likely the 
blow is to fall." If that were true, the speaker ap- 
peared likely to enjoy immunity from blows for some 
time to come. " See what all that rejoicin' and givin* 
in marriage has enSed in! Death and destruction and 
the grave. When I see folks happy and smilin', like 
as poor Miss Fallowfield was, I says to myself, * Smiles 
is made to be washed away with tears.' And it is so, 
and so it ever will be, this world being what it is, and 
a wilderness of care." 

"Well, anyway, there are a good many marriages 
that don't end in destruction and the grave," replied 
the lady of the house, who was in an argumentative 
mood ; " at least, not for some forty or fifty years." 

But Mrs. Mawer refused to be cheered up at any 

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price. "And better if they had, Mrs. Peppercorn, 
better if they had ! There are plenty of marriages to 
which destruction and the grave would be a pleasant 
diange ; such as my own, for instance.'* 

" Then I hope Mr. Mawer found it so," replied 
Mrs. Peppercorn, " as he was the one that tried it.'* 
Whereat Mrs. Mawer subsided for a moment. 

** Ah ! the ways of Providence are indeed inscrutable 
and past finding out,*' remarked Mrs. Sprott, in a tone 
which implied that she herself could soon explain these 
mysteries if she tried; and would proceed to do so on 
the slightest provocation. ** But from the moment I 
heard that poor Mr. Forrester had been appointed vicar 
of Dinglewood, I felt that trouble was impending. I 
did indeed.'* 

" I can quite believe that," retorted Mrs. Peppercorn. 
And there was the sound of battle in the air. 

"For three afternoons nmning I saw a shipwreck 
in my tea-cup," remarked Miss Tovey ; " at least I 
wasn't quite sure at the time whether it was a ship- 
wreck or a letter from foreign parts; but this proves 
it to have been a shipwreck." 

"I always think a shipwreck must be a most dis- 
tressing and appalling experience," said Mrs. Higgin- 
son. " People are rarely the same after it." 

"Very rarely; particularly if they happen to be 
drowned." It was Mrs. Peppercorn who spoke. 

**And even if they survive, the shock seems to tell 
upon the system," Mrs. Higginson continued. " As 
dear papa used to say, * If you fall out of a railway- 
train or a carriage, you fall upon dry ground; but if 

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fear of that, Mrs. Mawer — not from any point of view; 
so I wouldn't make myself uneasy on that score, if I 
was you/' 

Here Mrs. Paicey, who had hitherto been content 
with listening, joined in the conversation. **I always 
think that one of the greatest comforts in a trouble of 
this kind is the beautiful things that are said about the 
deceased in the local papers. To read about Mr. and 
Mrs. Forrester in the papers, now that they are gone, 
makes you feel as if they were perfect saints and always 
had been, and that it was a privilege for us all to have 
known them." 

The hostess agreed with her. " Quite right, Mrs- 
Paicey; you never spoke a truer word. And to my 
thinking, if folks didn't wait till their friends were dead 
before they said all the pleasant things about them, the 
world would be a sight better than it is. Give me a 
kind word while I'm here to listen to it, rather than a 
whole page of palaver in the local paper when I'm dead 
and buried." 

But Mrs. Paicey did not altogether approve of Mrs* 
Peppercorn's lack of sentiment. ** Still, all the same^ 
it's a comfort to be praised up in the papers, so to speak 
— and especially for them as is left behind. I'm sure 
when my sister Jane died — Mrs. Tilley as was — there 
were the most beautiful notices of her both in the local 
paper where she was living at the time and in the one 
at our old home. And lest there should be any mistake 
as to who she was, it put * Tilley via Turpin,' Turpin, 
as you know, being our maiden name." 

" Very gratifying, Mrs. Paicey, very gratifying in- 

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deed ! *' exclaimed Mrs. Sprott, with her most patron* 
ising air. 

" Not so gratifying to Jane herself as if they'd put 
* Tilley via Turpin ' in the papers when she could read 
it and enjoy it with her own eyes,*' persisted Mrs. 

" Oh, dear ! oh, dear ! *' cried Miss Tovey ; " Pve gone 
and mislaid the reel of number eight's cotton, and can't 
find it anywhere. Do you happen to have it, Mrs. 

" No, Miss Tovey ; Pm working with number seven's, 
it being rather stronger, as you might say." 

** Then where can it be? Pm sure I put it back again 
on the table when I took my last needleful. Oh, 
dear! oh, dear! Fm always such a one for mislaying 

** Folks as let their minds run upon love and nonsense 
of that kind generally mislay things," was Mrs. Pepper- 
corn's severe comment. ** Look under the table, Amelia." 

** I have, and it isn't there." 

** Then feel in your pocket." 

"It couldn't possibly be there, Mrs. Peppercorn, 
dear. I never put cotton in my pocket." 

** Never mind — ^f eel," replied the inexorable one. 

Miss Tovey obeyed the stem mandate. "Well, I 
never! Here it is in my pocket the whole time. Who* 
ever would have thought of finding it there? " 

" I did," replied Mrs. Peppercorn. 

*^ I must have slipped it in with my handkerchief by 

" Pll give you a piece of advice, Amelia Tovey, which 

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will come in useful when you mislay things," said Mrs. 
Peppercorn. ** If there happens to be a place where 
that thing couldn't possibly be, that's the place where 
you'll find it." 

" There seems nothing but loss and sorrow in the 
air," sighed Mrs. Mawer. " First the vicar's shipwreck, 
and then Amelia's cotton, and goodness only knows 
whose turn it will be next ! " 

Mrs. Sprott could not miss this opportunity of im- 
proving the occasion. '^ Still, a great deal of the loss 
and sorrow in the world is our own fault, and therefore 
avoidable. If Miss Tovey had put the cotton back in 
its proper place on the table instead of in her pocket, it 
would never have been lost at all; and if my dear son 
had been made vicar of Dinglewood, as he ought to have 
been, Mr. Forrester would never have met Miss Fallow- 
field, and so they would not have been drowned upon 
their honeymoon." 

Mrs. Peppercorn hastened to agree with her enemy ; 
and whenever she did this there was always danger 
abroad. " Quite so, quite so, Mrs. Sprott ; you never 
spoke a truer word in your life. Mr. Theophilus isn't 
the one to be drowned on his honeymoon, and it's no 
use pretending that he is." 

The good lady's tone was so full of hidden meaning 
that lurid thoughts darted through Mrs. Sprott's mind 
as to the proverbial immunity from death by drowning 
enjoyed by such as are reserved for another and a more 
notorious fate. So she inquired with some asperity: 
" And pray what do you mean by that, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn ? " 

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•*No offence, ma'am; no offence, Pm sure. AH I 
mean is that Mr. Theophilus isn't likely ever to have a 
honeymoon, and so he isn't likely to be drowned on it." 

" And why isn't my son ever likely to have a honey- 
moon, I should like to know?" The maternal spirit 
was up in arms on behalf of Theophilus ; hence its owner 
fell into the error of giving an opening to her oppo- 

** Because he isn't the one to take a fancy to a girl 
who hasn't got a penny of her own, and a girl who has 
got a penny of her own isn't the one to take a fancy 
to him." And Mrs. Peppercorn smiled the smile of the 

" It is very strange," remarked Miss Skinner, " to 
think that all that enormous fortune of Mrs. Forrester's 
had to be left behind, and that she couldn't take a single 
penny with her." 

** It would have been still stranger if she could, Emma 
Skinner," retorted the lady of the house. 

** As I said before, money makes precious little dif- 
ference at the end," continued Miss Skinner, un- 

'^ But it makes a good deal at the beginning and in 
the middle." 

" That is so, Mrs. Peppercorn ; which makes me 
wonder what unworthy and undeserving person will now 
get the benefit of Miss Fallowfield's fortune." 

" Not you, I'll be bound, Emma Skinner." 

** I should not presume to suggest such a thing, Mrs. 
Peppercorn," replied the postmistress haughtily. 

** Then why trouble your head about things that don't 

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concern you and are never likely to? You are as bad 
as Amelia Tovey, in your own way." 

" Still it would be very interesting to know who will 
get all that money," said Mrs. Paicey. " Paicey passed 
the remark only yesterday that it would be a rare fine^ 
haul for somebody." 

" And so it will," added Miss Skinner ; " a far finer 
haul than any one person deserves. I don't hold with 
the way money is divided in this world. Everybody 
seems either to have too much or too little." 

*^ And it's generally one's self that has too little and 
other folks that have too much," said Mrs. Peppercorn. 

But here Mrs. Sprott carried the conversation along 
broader and less personal lines. " It is very surprising 
and very sad how often it happens that these very 
large fortunes have no direct heir to inherit them. I 
have noticed how frequently very wealthy people have 
no family to whom to bequeath their large fortunes and 
estates; while, on the other hand, more impecunious 
persons are blessed with numerous and thriving children. 
Which teaches us the lesson that there is a compensa- 
tion in all things, and that happiness is more equally 
distributed than we are apt to think it is." 

Mrs. Peppercorn was up in arms at once. She al- 
ways was when Mrs. Sprott delivered an opinion eo! 
cathedra. "For my part, I don't see anything very 
surprising in folks who are drowned on their honeymoon 
not leaving a family behind them — ^nor very sad either ! " 

Mrs. Sprott distinctly sniffed. " You misunderstand 
me, Mrs. Peppercorn ; you misunderstand me entirely." 

" Well, Mrs. Sprott, I'm sure I hope I do." 

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Mrs. Higginson once more came to the support of 
her friend. " You are quite right, dear Mrs. Sprott. 
My lot has been cast so much among the titled and 
wealthy classes that I, too, have not failed to observe 
how often noble titles die out and large estates are 
broken up for want of a direct heir. As my dear papa, 
the doctor, would often say, * After all, your son is 
your son, while your nephew is only your nephew ' ; and 
one realises that more and more when one sees how diffi* 
cult it is for people to select sai heir to their posses- 
sions out of their circle of relatives, if there doesn't 
happen to be one in the direct line." 

" Well, anyway, talking of nephews, there is Miss 
Silverthorne," suggested Mrs. Paicey ; " and I always 
think that your sister's children are almost the same as 
your own." 

** Are they, indeed, Mrs. Paicey? " cried Miss Tovey, 
as ever athirst for more knowledge concerning the re- 
gion of the affections. " Now I never should have 
thought of that myself, for, anyhow, your brother^s 
children aren't." 

" They are not. Miss Tovey ; they are quite differ- 
ent, as you might say." 

"And why is that, Mrs. Paicey, dear? " 

" Because they are the children of another woman, so 
to speak, and brought up according to the notions of 
their mother's family, while your sister's children are 
brought up with your ideas and notions." 

" How very interesting ! How I should have loved 
to have had a sister whose children were brought up with 
all my ideas and notions." 

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"Then they'd have been very funnily brought up, 
AmeKa Tovey, that's all I can say." Mrs. Pepper- 
corn was always severe on poor Amelia. 

•* Somehow, however much you may try to love them, 
your brother's children seem to belong somehow to quite 
a different family; they are not a bit like children of 
your own." Miss Tovey sighed rather wistfully. She 
had a married brother living in Merchester, with a large 
and struggling family, who alternately tried to get 
money out of her and ignored her altogether. Her 
fiister-in-law was an abiding thorn in the flesh to poor 
[Amelia, who was endowed with the very doubtful bless- 
ing of a refinement far above her class and her sur- 
roundings. Like Mrs. Peppercorn, Mrs. Thomas Tovey 
had no patience with Amelia's sentimentality ; but while 
the former lady snubbed with the dignity of an elder 
and a life-long friend, Mrs. Thomas merely snapped 
with the impertinence of an imsympathetic contem- 

The hostess pronounced judgment. " If there's one 
woman in the world more than another who doesn't 
know how to bring up a family, that woman is your 
brother's wife ; and you'll find this is true all the world 
over, whoever you are and whoever your brother has 

" Your son's wife isn't much better, according to what 
I've heard say." 

•* That is as may be, Mrs. Paicey. Sons' wives some* 
times know how to bring up a family and sometimes they 
don't; but brothers' wives never know, and never will 
know, as long as the world stands." 

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** There are very few women at all who know prop- 
erly how to bring up a family,'' said Mrs. Sprott, in 
the tone of one who recognised herself as one of these 
rare exceptions ; ** very few indeed. It is so difficult to 
understand what are the excellent gifts that we should 
most earnestly covet for our children. For my part, 
all I prayed for for my son was neither rank nor riches, 
but that he might be blessed with an understanding 

" And Fll be bound," replied Mrs. Peppercorn, ** that 
you were far too sincere a Christian, Mrs. Sprott, to 
have your faith shaken in any way by the fact that 
your prayer wasn't answered, as the faith of some folks 
is if their prayers aren't all * reply paid.' " 

Mrs. Sprott was not altogether pleased at this trib- 
ute to her piety, and did not appear so ; but all she said 
was, ** And I can say truly, with a heart full of thanks- 
giving, that my son has never been to me anything but 
a source of joy." 

** Well, Pm glad to hear it," replied her enemy, with 
a sigh of satisfaction. *^ Some folks are easily pleased ; 
and very thankful they ought to be that they are, or 
there wouldn't be much pleasure for them in this 

" I think it is a great gift to be easily pleased," 
cried little Miss Tovey, ** and people who are easily 
pleased are always so much the most pleasant to live 
with. I've noticed that men who are easily pleased 
make much nicer husbands than men who aren't. If 
ever I'd have married, that's the sort of man I should 
have liked." 

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**And that's the sort you would have got, AmeKa 
Tovey," retorted her hostess, with grim humour. 

Here Mrs. Paicey lifted up her voice once more. 
** Well, all I can say is that I do hope Mrs. Forrester 
has acted fair by Miss Silvertbome, for a prettier 
young lady I never did set eyes on. 'And her own 
sister's child and all, as you might say, and so nobody 
has a better right to it, having no children of her own, 
as it were." 

"But after all a husband has more claim than even 
a niece," cried Miss Tovey, who was always strong on 
the conjugal duties. 

** And what good will that do him when he is at the 
bottom of the sea?" argued Mrs. Peppercorn. 

Mrs. Mawer sighed as usual. " And the best place 
for him to be in, nine cases out of ten ! " 

** I agree with Mrs. Paicey," said Mrs. Sprott, " in 
hoping that dear Miss Silvertbome will inherit the 
greater part of her aimt's vast fortune." The mater- 
nal imagination works quickly, and already Mrs. Sprott 
had apportioned Mrs. Forrester's fortune to Miss Sil- 
vertbome, and Miss Silvertbome in turn to Theophilus. 
She saw him in her mind's eye reigning at Dinglewood 
Hall and dispensing Miss Fallowfield's millions, with a 
bishopric and several other ecclesiastical adornments 
thrown in. 

" And supposing she does get it," asked Mrs. Mawer, 
" what will it bring her but sorra' and misery, all of us 
being bom to trouble as the sparks fly upward? I re- 
member there was such rejoicings as never was when 
my cousin, Williams Stubbins, came into a legacy of 

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seventy-five pounds on the death of an uncle on his 
mother's side ; and that very week he caught bronchitis 
on the chest and never was the same man afterwards, to 
my thinking." 

^ Well, for my part, I think a little legacy does one 
a lot of good,'* said Mrs. Peppercorn ; ** seems to cheer 
one up a bit. At least, I know I felt all the better for 
my Aimt Lavinia's three hundred pounds.** 

But Mrs. Mawer shook her head. ^^And what are 
feelings, Mrs. Peppercorn, in the case of stout figures 
such as yours? Nothing but vanity and lies. Why, 
only two days before Mawer was took with his last ill- 
ness, he felt better than IVe ever known him, and took 
such a hearty meal of roast pork with kidney beans. 
And a week after that he was gone. But that's the 
way with them stout figures — ^here to-day and gone to- 
morrow — ^which I'm always thankful I was a thin one, 
with all respect to yourself, Mrs. Peppercorn, the world 
being what it is and life so imcertain to them as are 

" Well, anyhow, I managed to outlive my Aunt La- 
vinia*s legacy, and I trust I shall outlive a good many 
more, if it's all the same to you, Mrs. Mawer," replied 
Mrs. Peppercorn cheerfully ; " and I trust as Miss Dag- 
mar will be able to do the same." 

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Great was the interest felt on every side when the con- 
ditions of Mrs. Forrester's will became known. The 
general opinion of the neighbourhood was in favour of 
the lady's niece inheriting the lady's fortune; but, as 
Mr. Duncan was forever pointing out, the question 
was not as to what ought to be, but as to what actually 
was ; not whether the money should or should not belong 
to Miss Silverthome, but whether it did or did not be- 
long to Claude Forrester. 

Of course, there was the obvious solution that if only 
the young people would fall in love with and marry 
each other — ^and what is easier to the young than to 
fall in love and marry, if only they get the chance? — 
the matter settled itself — and this solution found fa- 
vour in the eyes of the more romantic and sentimental 
members of the community. But though the law may 
be an ass, the law is not a sentimental one ; and the law 
insisted that the worldly goods should be properly ap- 
portioned before they could be duly disposed of at the 
hymeneal altar. 

Although Mr. Dunccui could see clearly that from an 
outside point of view the equitable decision seemed to be 
that Dagmar should come into all that her aunt had 
left, and should inherit as next of kin, he knew that the 


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matter must be decided according to what the will 
said, and not according to what the neighbourhood 
thought; and he also knew that to leave her niece 
in possession of this vast fortune was the last thing 
which his old friend had intended. Many and many 
a time he blamed himself for having suggested the 
temporary will as a way of tiding over the difficulty 
until the matter could be finally settled ; and many and 
many a time did he regret the fatal and feminine habit 
of proscrastination which had prevented Miss Fallow- 
field from disposing of her own property before ever 
Mr. Forrester came on the scene. 

There was no question as to either side being left 
penniless, or else Mr. Duncan would have felt very dif- 
ferently. Had the loss of her aunt's fortune consigned 
Dagmar to poverty, or even to limited means, the ques- 
tion would have assumed other and different propor- 
tions ; in that case it would have been a burning injus- 
tice — ^whatever the will might have said — to deprive the 
girl of a fair share of Miss Fallowfield's million, and Mr. 
Duncan would have fought tooth and nail to save his 
fair yoimg client from an injustice so gross. But it did 
nothing of the kind. As it was, the girl was amply 
provided for — as amply as her aunt had ever intended 
her to be — ^and, if the truth must be told, as amply 
as Mr. Duncan thought desirable for any unmarried 
woman. The bitterness occasioned by Miss Fallow- 
field's wealth, both in her own mind and in the mind 
of her would-be suitor, had left its indelible trace on the 
character of Mr. Duncan; he could not forget that, 
had Charlotte been poorer, he would have been a happy 

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man and she a happy woman ; and therefore he was in^ 
no particular hurry to inflict upon the niece the burden 
which had marred the life of the aunt. 

On the other hand, Claude's pecuniary position in no 
way appealed to him for sympathy. The fifty thousand 
settled upon Mr. Forrester and his heirs was an ample 
provision for the young man, and a provision, more- 
over, to which he was in no way entitled save through 
his step-mother's generosity. So that Mr. Duncan could 
not make up his mind as to the course which he wished 
events to take. All he saw was that the only thing to 
be done was to refer the matter to the Probate Court, 
and to abide by its rendering of the terms of the will. 
And this course he accordingly took. 

" I shall be glad when this matter of the Fallowfield 
estates is settled," he remarked to his head clerk ; " very 
glad indeed." 

" Just so, sir; just so," responded Timothy, rubbing 
his hands together in his usual obsequious manner when 
addressed by the head of the firm. 

" But, whichever way it is, it will be in direct oppo- 
sition to the wishes and intentions of the testatrix; as 
she would have highly disapproved of either of those 
young persons having sole possession of so large a 

** Just so, sir, just so," repeated Mr. Sprott. 

"I blame myself principally, as it was I who sug- 
gested to Mrs. Forrester to make a temporary will 
leaving everything to her husband, and then to give him 
full instructions as to what to do with it if she hap- 
pened to die before disposing of It herself." 

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, ^^ And most exceDent advice, Mr. Reginald, if yoa 
win excuse my saying so. Who is more competent to 
advise a woman than her own husband, I should like to 
know? ^ demanded Timothy, who had never enjoyed this 
marital privilege. ^And who more suitable than a 
clergyman to give advice as to charitable objects? For 
Miss Fallowfield— or I should say Mrs. Forrester — 
never made any secret of the fact that she intended to 
leave the bulk of her fortune to charity.'' 

** Certainly, Sprott ; as you say, the late Miss Fal- 
lowfield never made any secret of her intentions. And 
I admit that the impression which Mr. Forrester had 
made upon me was so favourable — ^I considered him a 
man of such sound judgment and high principles — ^that 
I could think of no one more fit and proper to offer 
advice upon this matter than he, quite apart from his 
authority as being the lady's husband." 

^' Quite so, sir, quite so. Just what I should have 
felt myself if I had been in your place." 

^ And I should have been right in the ordinary course 
of events," continued Mr. Duncan, " but who could have 
foreseen that both Mr. and Mrs. Forrester would be 
drowned upon their honejrmoon? " 

^No one, sir; no one at alL It is a most unusual 
conclusion to a wedding trip — ^most unusual, and, I 
think I may add, most unfortunate." 

^ But, after all, Sprott, we have to deal with things 
as they are and not with them as they would have 
been had we seen the end from the beginning and acted 
accordingly. There is no manner of doubt that noth- 
ing would have induced Miss Fallowfield consciously to 

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leave her entire fortune to either Dagmar Silverthome 
or Claude Forrester; and there is also no manner of 
doubt that one or other of those young persons will 
inherit that fortune. The question is, which of them 
it will be." 

'^Exactly so, sir; you have put the matter into a 

^' If you will recall the case of Sugden vs. MSls, you 
will see that the Probate Court has a precedent to guide 
them," Mr. Duncan went on. " It was a very similar 
case. A husband and wife were drowned in the same 
ship, both having left their property to the survivor; 
and the Court argued that as a man is stronger physic- 
ally than a woman, so he would struggle longer in the 
water before he was drowned; and it therefore ruled 
that in all human probability the husband survived the 
wife by a few minutes, and disposed of the property 

" Yes, sir; yes, sir; now that you mention it, I recall 
the case quite welL But it seemed to me an unsatisfac- 
tory decision, if you will pardon my saying so. It 
would depend so much upon the respective sizes of hus- 
band and wife." Timothy could not conceive of any 
circumstances in which his Susanna would not struggle 
longer than he. 

Mr. Duncan's eye twinkled. He, too, felt that the 
multitudinous seas would have their work cut out for 
them if they attempted to silence Mrs. Sprott; and 
that a whole ship's crew — ^let alone her gentle little 
husband — ^would submit to the inevitable before that 
excellent lady succumbed. "Yes, of course, their re- 

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spective sizes would have something to do with it," he 

"And also,'' added Mr. Sprott, "the fact that 
women seem to cling to life so much more than men do." 

" Tut, tut, Sprott; I don't know about that! That 
again, I think, varies according to individual cases. 
Now the late vicar was as tall for a man as his wife 
was for a woman, though she was stouter than he. But 
that, of course, would still bear out my point — ^the 
stouter one would sink the sooner." 
I Mr. Sprott, however, sighed and shook his head. 
"There is plenty of struggling power in some of the 
stout ones," he murmured, visions of his Susanna's in- 
domitable thirteen stone floating before his mind's eye. 

" And there was no reason why Forrester should not 
cling to life," continued Mr. Duncan ; " a man just mar- 
ried, and doubtless happy in his marriage." 

" Very possibly so, sir ; some are," was the married 
man's ominous reply. 

The single man laughed outright. " Come, come, 
Sprott; you are getting too much of a cynic alto- 

Timothy smiled a faint smile of gratification. There 
is not a man living who does not feel flattered at being 
called a cynic. 

"But, of course," Mx* Duncan went on, growing 
serious again, " the case that we are ourselves inter- 
ested in does not march on all fours with the case of 
Sugden vs. Mills. In the latter the parties had been 
married to each other for a considerable number of 
years, and so their interests were supposed to have be- 

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come more or less identical. Moreover, the husband 
had a fortune of his own as well as the wife, which 
seems somehow to make a difference. But I cannot help 
feeling that the shorter the married life of a couple has 
been the less claim they have morally upon each other's 
property ; and in the case with which we are now deal- 
ing, the couple were actually upon their honeymoon." 

** Certainly, sir, certainly ; on their honeymoon, as 
you say. And although you cannot expect the law to 
take such personal matters into consideration, I agree 
with you that the longer a man has Uved with his wife, 
the more compensation he is entitled to expect when her 
property comes to be divided.'* 

"Well, Sprott, I did not exactly put it in that 
way; but practically that is what it amoimts to, I 
suppose." And Mr. Duncan laughed again. 

" And, of course, sir," continued Mr. Sprott, ** Miss 
Dagmar has a far greater moral claim than young 
Mr, Forrester upon the late Mrs. Forrester's fortune. 
He was absolutely nothing to the deceased lady, while 
she was an adopted daughter." 

"Precisely, my dear- Sprott; but the law has not a 
keen eye for moral claims ; it deals with things as they 
are, and not with things as they ought to be; and I 
should not be surprised — even after taking into consid- 
eration the fact that had Mrs. Forrester died intestate 
Miss Silverthome would have been her heir-at-law — ^if 
the court decided in favour of young Forrester. It 
would be highly unjust, I admit, but none the less abso- 
lutely legal." 

By that time the claims of the 5.S3 had become so 

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imperative that Mr. Sprott was compelled either to flee 
Incontinently from his employer or to miss it; and he 
chose, as usual, the former course, leaving Mr. Dun- 
can much edifled by the bird's-eye glimpses he had ob« 
tained of the domestic life of his head clerk. 

But had he heard that head clerk's own account of 
the interview he would hardly have recognised it. 

On Timothy's return to the bosom of his family, he 
found Mr. and Mrs. Higginson were being cheered but 
not inebriated at his Susanna's hospitable board ; and he 
was only too glad to have so large an audience to listen 
to the recital of his trivial round. 

" I suppose nothing has yet been settled as to who is 
to have Miss Fallowfield's fortune? " inquired Mrs. 
Sprott, when the meal was well under way» 

" No, my love, no. The court has not yet given its 
decision upon that important matter." 

"Well, I can only say that if the law courts give 
that fortune to young Forrester, I shall wash my hands 
of them for the rest of my life," remarked Mrs. Sprott, 
as if the law courts were the playground wherein she 
took her daily pastime. " It will be the most iniquitous 
thing I ever heard of!" 

"Hush, my love, hush! We must not speak disre* 
spectfuUy of our great national institutions," argued 
Timothy, in a soothing voice. 

" I shall speak disrespectfully of who and what I like, 
Timothy, and I shall not tender respect where respect 
is not due. And if you think that there is anything re- 
spectable about law courts that take away the legiti-* 
mate bread of an orphan girl and give it to an imperti- 

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nent young man who has no claim upon it, I can only 
say that I do not agree with you." 

Timothy quailed. He always quailed when his wife 
said she did not agree with him. It was one of Mrs. 
Sprott^s favourite battle-cries. 

" As I was remarking to dear Mrs. Sprott the other 
day,'* said Mrs. Higginson, "my connection with the 
aristocracy has shown me how rarely these large estates 
and fortunes go in the direct line. So often in the case 
of Church property it means a family curse, or some- 
thing equally interesting; and I recall once reading a 
most beautiful poem — by Sir Walter Scott, if I remem- 
ber rightly — about property which was doomed never 
to descend from father to son, because somebody threw 
a baby behind the fire.'* 

Here Mr. Higginson burst into a loud guffaw. 
** Lord, Matilda, how you do run on, to be sure ! Your 
mind's full of nonsense and poetry and play-acting and 
the like. But PU be bound that neither Mr. Forrester 
nor Miss Fallowfield ever threw any babies behind the 
fire; they weren't that sort; you may make your mind 
easy on that score.'' 

" Still, Miss Fallowfield's fortune may originally 
have been Church-property,*' persisted Mrs. Higgin- 
son, " which would account for its not going in the 
direct line. As dear papa used to say, * What belongs 
to the Church belongs to the Church,' and I feel now 
how true that is." 

At the word " Church-property " Mrs. Sprott had 
pricked up her ears. She felt that matters were being 
carried into her own domain. " I never heard of Miss 

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Fallowfield's fortune being Church-property; and I 
think I should have been informed of it if it had been. 
Besides, it came originally from America, where they 
have no dear Established Church as we have here**' 

** Well, I recall the case of dear papa's friend. Lord 
Undergrowth," said Mrs. Higginson ; " his estates were 
originally confiscated from the Church at the time of 
the Reformation, and in consequence never passed di- 
rect from father to son ; in addition to which the family 
was troubled with the ghost of a monk or a nun — I 
forgot which, and it really does not much matter, their 
ghosts being very similar in dress and appearance-^ 
who always frequented the larder and stole a good deal 
of the game. At least, if you can call it stealing, when 
the game originally belonged to it in by-gone ages." 

^^ Stuff and nonsense, Matilda ! I don't deny that the 
game was stolen, but it was no ghost that stole it." 

Mr. Higginson had but little belief in the super- 

" Nevertheless, I do consider that Miss Fallowfield's 
fortune is in a way Church-property," said Mrs. Sprott 
thoughtfully, "because the living of Dinglewood was 
not given, as it ought to have been, to Theophilus. In 
fact, according to my ideas. Miss Fallowfield sinned as 
much against the Church when she deprived my son of 
the living of Dinglewood as Henry VIII. did when he 
dissolved the monasteries. Therefore we cannot be sur- 
prised if her property does not descend in the direct 

That Dagmar was not in the direct line never seemed 
to occur to either Mrs. Sprott or Mrs. Higginson. They 

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apparently regarded the line of inheritance as of the 
same nature as the knight's move in chess. 

" But I shall consider it a burning shame," continued 
Mrs. Sprott, "if the law courts decide the matter in 
favour of that young Forrester; and I shall make no 
secret of my opinions. If the law desires my respect it 
must deserve it. But what does Mr. Duncan think, 

" Well, my love, as it happens, I spoke to him about 
the subject this very day. In fact, I went into his 
room for the purpose of doing so. * Sprott,' says he, 
in his usual affable manner — ^he was always affability 
itself, was Mr. Reginald — * is there anything you want 
to say to me before catching the 6.23? ' * Sir,' says I, 
* I want to know your opinion on the subject nearest 
our hearts at the present moment : the disposition of the 
late Miss Fallowfield's fortune.' I should have said Mrs, 
Forrester's, but I always think of the departed lady as 
Miss Fallowfield, and always shall." 

" I wonder she did not retain her maiden name," re- 
marked Mrs. Higginson ; " I always think it a most 
distinguS thing to do when the lady has property of 
her own. It is ever a source of regret to me that Mr. 
H. did not adopt the patronymic of Fitzwilkins on our 

**Well, I shouldn't have done that if your fortune 
had been ten times what it was, and that's flat," re- 
torted Mr. Higginson, with much decision. " And be- 
sides, Matilda, it was plain Wilkins in those days, if you 
remember; the Fitzwilkins business hadn't come to the 

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Mrs. Higgmson did not pursue the subject. Like all 
true snobs, there was nothing she so much dreaded as 
research into the past. 

"Go on, Timothy," commanded Mrs. Sprott. She 
felt no interest in the reminiscences of the Higginson 

" * I have been thinking, Mr. Duncan,' I said, * about 
the case of Sugden vs. Mills, a similar case to the one 
under consideration ; and I have begun to fear that the 
Court will take the decision then given as a precedent, 
and act accordingly.* * And what was the decision in 
that case?' said he; *I shall be thankful, my dear 
Sprott, if you will recall it to my memory.' Which I 
accordingly proceeded to do." 

"And what was the decision?" asked Mrs. Sprott, 
anxious to come to the point. 

" The Court decided, my love, that in the case of a 
shipwreck a husband would naturally survive his wife, 
because, having the stronger physique, he would strug- 
gle longer in the water before he finally succumbed." 

" Well, I never ! " exclaimed Mrs. Sprott. " What a 
pack of nonsense ! " (Considering that the worthy 
woman weighed thirteen stone and stood five foot six in 
her stockings, while her husband weighed nine stone six 
and stood five foot three, it must be admitted that the 
argument seemed scarcely convincing.) " That is just 
the sort of thing a lot of silly men would think when 
left to themselves," she added, with unmeasured scorn. 

" You see, my love," explained Timothy, " the whole 
thing depends upon whether Mr. or Mrs. Forrester was 
the survivor." 

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" Ancl a most ridiculous thing for it to depend upon, 
considering that it is a thing that nobody knows and 
will never be able to find out!" Mrs. Sprott's scorn 
increased in intensity. 

"Why can't they use their own common sense/* 
asked Mr. Higginson, " and give Mrs. Forrester's for- 
tune to Mrs. Forrester's next of kin?** 

"For a very good reason, Mr. Higginson; because 
they haven't got any to use," replied the hostess. ** If 
they had, there wouldn't be any of that silly talk about 
men being bigger and stronger than their wives." 

** As I pointed out to Mr. Duncan," said Timothy, 
•* so large a fortune would be a terrible responsibility 
for a yoimg girl like Miss Silverthome." 

" Not at all," retorted his wife ; " that was a very 
foolish thing to say, Timothy! She would have no 
difficulty in finding a suitable husband to manage her 
fortune for her." Again visions of Theophilus dispens- 
ing Miss Fallowfield's million floated before his mother's 
eyes. And, to do the good woman justice, it must be 
admitted that in her wildest dreams she did not desire 
that her son should use this money for himself or for his 
own personal pleasures. She conscientiously believed 
that Theophilus was the right man to carry out Miss 
Fallowfield's well-known intentions that the greater part 
of her fortune should be laid out upon charitable ob- 
jects ; and all she desired for her son was the glory and 
honour which would naturally accrue to one who laid 
out so large a sum of money as efficiently as Theophilus 
would lay it out, if only he had the chance. i 

" And doubtless, my love," added Timothy, chuckling 

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at his own joke, " if, on the other hand, young Mr. For- 
rester inherited the money, he would likewise have no 
difficulty in finding a suitable wife to manage it prop* 
erly for him.'' 

But, as usual, Mr. Sprott's hiunour was lost upon 
his better-half. 

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Althouoh the interest felt in the disposition of Miss 
Fallowfield's fortune was deep and widespread, there 
was naturally no one so thoroughly absorbed in the 
question as the two young people themselves. To them 
it was a matter of vital importance affecting their whole 

At first Claude^s impulse had been to waive any claims 
he might have upon the property in favour of Dagmar, 
who apparently had so much more right to it from a 
moral point of view than he. But, as Mr. Duncan had 
explained to him, he could not waive his claim imtil it 
was proved that he had a claim to waive ; and while he 
was waiting to be enlightened upon this point, a change 
came o'er the spirit of his dream. 

As long as it was a question between his own per- 
sonal interest and Dagmar's, he never wavered, and 
never would waver, in his decision that she should have 
the whole of her aunt's fortune. It was only when he 
grasped the fact that, morally speaking, the money 
was bound to be spent in charity — ^that neither he nor 
Dagmar would individually be any the better off for it 
— ^that the first longings to become the possessor of 
the fortune began to stir in his heart. Mr. Duncan's 
assurance that Mrs. Forrester's intention to leave the 
money to some charitable object had legally no weight, 

196 - 

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was not worth the breath in which it was uttered as far 
as either of the two young people was concerned. To 
them the wish of the testatrix was as binding as an Act 
of Parliament; and it would have been unthinkable to 
them to keep money for their own use which Miss Fal- 
lowfield had designed for charitable purposes. 

But although nothing would have induced Claude 
to allow his own pleasure or profit to interfere with 
Dagmar's, to permit his cherished schemes to take pre- 
cedence of hers was quite a different thing. Even the 
best of people will do things for the sake of their prin- 
ciples which they would scorn to do for the sake of 
their preference ; from the which peculiarity of human 
nature arises the spirit of persecution — ^a not alto- 
gether ignoble spirit when rightly apprehended, but 
rather a virtue in excess than a vice in essence. The 
inquisitor is, after all, only the martyr turned inside 
out. The man who is ready to sacrifice other people's 
lives for a creed is generally equally ready to sacrifice 
his own, for to him it is the creed that matters and not 
the individual life. We canonise the martyr and anath- 
ematise the persecutor, but in reality it is only in 
circumstances that the twain differ, and not in char- 
acter. They are, in fact, identical persons, treated 
respectively from the subjective and objective points 
of view. 

Now Claude Forrester was the sort of man who could 
have been either a martyr or an inquisitor, as circiun- 
stances demanded ; that is to say, he was always ready 
to sacrifice a person — either himself or another — ^to a 
principle. And he was so certain (as what man, simi- 

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larly placed, would not have been?) that his scheme of 
disposing of his stepmother's fortune for the good of 
mankind was infinitely superior to any charitable de- 
signs which Miss Silverthome's brain was capable of 
conceiving, that he felt justified, the more he thought 
about it, in taking and disposing of the fortune should 
he have the chance. He had no desire for wealth for its 
own sake, no mere personal ambition, but he had a very 
strong desire to serve his day and generation in the 
manner which he himself accounted best, and, if possi- 
ble, to prevent other people from offering the same 
service after a different fashion. 

It is very difficult even for the greatest minds to 
achieve depth unalloyed by narrowness, and Claude 
Forrester's intellect had by no means attained to this 
far-off end. It could hardly have been expected of him 
at four-and-twenty. He had made up his mind — ^no 
mean achievement at twenty-four — ^to do what he con- 
sidered right at all costs; but he was by no means so 
sure that it was his duty to let other people do what 
they considered right at all costs, if he could possibly 
prevent it — ^given, of course, that their idea of right- 
doing was opposed to his. He was true and sincere and 
high-minded and earnest, and was strongly imbued 
with the ideal side of life and character, but to pretend 
that he had not the defects of his qualities would be to 
prove that he was no fit denizen of this world of ours^ 
where the good and the evil, the wheat and the tares, 
are so inextricably intertwined that only One Hand can 
ever properly disentangle them. 

A considerable portion of Claude's childhood had 

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been spent with his father's parents in the Lake district, 
and the spirit of that wonderland had entered into his 
blood and impregnated his whole nature. The moodi- 
ness and the mysticism of the mountain was his — the 
instinct of prayer and of communion with the Divine. 

For many years Claude had nourished in his brain a 
scheme which there seemed no hope of accomplishing — 
he had secretly gone on raising an air-castle which there 
seemed no chance of ever transmuting into actual fact. 
Then suddenly — ^with this idea of Miss Fallowfield's for- 
tune coming to him — ^the impossible appeared feasible, 
and the unattainable was brought into the region of 
practical politics. 

His idea was to build a monastery after the fashion 
of the religious houses of the Middle Ages, where a cer- 
tain number of clergy should live together and devote 
themselves to mission work ; and in connection with this 
brotherhood there should be a college, where students, 
too impecunious to attend other places of learning, 
should be trained gratuitously for the taking of Holy 
Orders ; so that no young man who felt a call to devote 
himself to the service of the Temple, and yet had not 
the means to educate himself in response to that Call, 
should be debarred by his poverty from taking his 
appointed part in the ministry of the Most High. 

Tenderly did Claude's imagination dwell upon the 
monastery of his dreams. His whole artistic nature 
rose up in a perfect passion of desire to express itself 
in the form of an abbey uniting modem use with ancient 
beauty. He had visited most of the ruined abbeys in 
England, and had fused their various perfections in 

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his own mind Into a wonderful and harmonious whole, 
containing some part of each one of them. He had a 
great idea of the wonderful power that external beauty 
exerts upon the inner man, and he pictured a structure 
which should in itself be a liberal education to every 
student who was trained within its walls. By the see- 
ing eye he would teach the understanding heart that 
the sacramental principle runs through everything, and 
that each outward and visible beauty, in either art or 
nature, is in reality but a symbol of some hidden and 
spiritual grace or truth. 

And the beauty of the fabric should not only be an 
education to the younger men who came to graduate in 
the college ; it should also be an inspiration to the elder 
members of the brotherhood, upholding and strength- 
ening them for their ministry to the poor and needy 
who dwelt in the ugly and squalid places of the earth. 
When they were exhausted by their efforts to call souls 
out of the darkness of modem sin and civilisation into 
the eternal light of the presence of God, they would 
come back to bathe their weary spirits in the exquisite 
peace and beauty of their monastic home, and there find 
rest and refreshment to enable them to take up their 
sacred work again with renewed hope and energy. 

Of all the beautiful buildings which Claude had 
studied in the desire to reproduce their perfections 
according to the requirements of modem life, the one 
in which his soul most delighted was Fountains Abbey. 
Often and often had he dreamed of a modem Fountains, 
whose beauty should train and strengthen men for their 
struggle with the sin of the present day, and whose 

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perfect grace and symmetry should uplift their spirits 
into the regions of that Heavenly City whose builder 
and maker is God. < 

There was one spot in Dinglewood Park which 
always seemed to Claude to embody the typical beauty 
of the scenery of the Midlands. Through a small 
valley, surrounded by richly-wooded slopes, a slowly- 
running stream made its way, breaking out now and 
again into miniature lakes, reflecting the blue heavens, 
and into deep pools fringed with overhanging trees. 
It was a secret shrine of nature— one of those hidden 
places of the earth where the birds and the bees chant 
their Magnificat to the censing of the flowers, and the 
trees of the field stand by and clap their hands. But 
the hills which guarded this shrine were no impregnable 
mountains standing straight and high as the battle- 
ments of Heaven, but grassy uplands where the shadows 
of the beech trees traced strange patterns upon the 
sunlit sward; and the river which watered it was no 
wild and foaming torrent hurling itself in a passion of 
agony against the rocks which barred its path, but a 
wide and deep stream wending its way to the haunts of 
men in order to become at last one of the highways of 

Oftentimes had Claude stood in that sheltered spot, 
and imagined a glorious tower rising up towards 
Heaven out of the fertile valley, guarding a cloistered 
hostelry for such pilgrims as had set their feet on the 
highway to Zion. And now, as if by a miracle, the 
building of a modem abbey in that particular place 
became possible. And there would not only be money 

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to raise the fabric; there would also be enough to 
endow the institution along the lines which Claude's 
imagination had depicted. The whispering trees and 
running waters seemed to mingle their voices in sup- 
plication for a temple to be erected in their midst, 
which — ^by its very presence — should perform anew the 
sacramental miracle, and should transmute their mate- 
rial beauty into a foretaste of the glory of a better 
country, that is to say, an heavenly. 

Surely all of us have had the feeling, sometime or 
another, when gazing at a beautiful view, that the 
natural beauty failed to satisfy us — that it left us with 
a feeling of dissatisfaction and unrest; and there is 
nothing which is such an antidote to this feeling — 
nothing which so completely finishes and seals the 
beauty of a landscape — as the sight in its midst of a 
church spire or cathedral towers ; which is but a symbol 
of the truth that the central Fact of the universe is 
the Sacrifice of the Great High Priest, which His 
people continually set forth imtil He comes again; 
and that all the beauties of nature and of art are but 
the steps and the curtains of that Divine Altar, the 
smoke whereof ascendeth for ever and ever. The cham- 
bers of art and nature, of science and learning, are but 
smaller chapels in the great cathedral of life, leading 
us to the steps of that mysterious sanctuary, where — 
by His Sacrifice of Himself once offered — ^the Divine 
Victim reconciles all things unto God. 

It appeared to Claude Forrester that he was spedally 
called to put the finishing seal upon the landscape 
which he loved, and to give a point and a meaning to 

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the beauty of that particular part of the Midlands 
which, until now, it had lacked. He was indeed a seer 
of visions and a dreamer of dreams; and it had been 
^ven to him to enter into the spirit of the old Roman 
road, and to hear the message which it brought out of 
the past. He knew — ^as your true poet always will 
know, be he a poet in words or in stones, or colours 
or sweet soimds — ^that the Toice of the mountain is the 
voice of prayer; and that it is on mountain-tops and 
in desert places that the human most frequently holds 
converse with the Divine. But he also knew that though 
the voice of the forest be the voice of love, yet in hid- 
den woodland glades and mysterious thickets men 
have caught the vision of the Holy Grail; that 
though the voice of the ocean be the voice of 
sorrow, yet those who go down to the sea in ships 
have seen One walking upon the waters hushing 
the tumult of the waves; yet that most of the way- 
farers upon the highways of life are like to those trav- 
ellers on the road to Emmaus, who were so busy 
discussing the things that had happened that they 
knew not Who talked with them by the way. The spirit 
of the road is the spirit of progress, yet it is generaUy 
progress towards earthly rather than heavenly goals; 
therefore, the sojourners by the highways of life, more 
than the denizens of the forest or the dwellers by the 
sea, need something to remind them of that other and 
fairer world which is invisible to mortal eye. Both the 
sea and the forest lie nearer to the borderland of the 
better country than do the great thoroughfares of the 
workaday world. True, Saint Paul saw the Heavenly 

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yision on the road to Damascus, and Saint Peter met 
the Ascended Master face to face upon the Applan 
Way; but the eyes of the ordinary traveDer are so 
blinded by the dust of the road, and his ears so deafened 
by its tra£Sc, that he neither sees the Ineffable Vision 
nor hears the music of the spheres. Therefore it is in 
low-lying midlands, rather than in mountain regions 
or by storm-haunted shores, that men need the message 
which is conveyed by means of temples made with 
hands ; so that to them, too, as to the wayfarers on the 
road to Emmaus, the Master may be made known in 
Breaking of Bread. 

To Claude's imagination the exquisite spot in Dingle* 
wood Park looked empty and meaningless. It seemed 
like the setting of a gem which was lost — ^the frame of 
a picture which was not yet painted — or rather, per- 
haps, like a bride who had adorned herself with her 
jewels in preparation for a bridegroom who tarried 
upon his way. Of what avail were her jewels, her walls 
of emerald, and her pavements of sapphire, if He for 
Whom she had decked herself did not come to rejoice 
over His bride? And Claude most ardently desired 
that to himself should be given the honour of placing 
the heavenly seal upon this scene of earthly beauty, and 
of raising in its midst a tabernacle where the Lord God 
might dwell among men in that peaceful valley of whis- 
pering woodlands and murmuring streams. 

This, then, was how the present state of affairs ap- 
peared to Claude; but to Dagmar it wore an entirely 
different aspect. 

Brought up as she had been in an atmosphere of 

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intellectual culture, the young architect's mysticism in 
no way appealed to her. It touched no answering 
chord in her heart, awakened no responsive mood in her 
spirit. In the first place, she was eminently practical; 
but she was more than that, she was full of youthful 
hopes and ardours ; but they were the hopes and ardours 
of the plain rather than of the mountain, of the hearth 
rather than of the cloister. She, too, saw her visions 
end dreamed her dreams ; but they were neither dreams 
of mediaeval saints nor visions of angels. They were 
dreams of the ordinary conditions of modem life 
brought up to the highest possible pitch of morality 
and prosperity and comfort ; they were visions of com- 
monplace working men and women, trained and edu- 
cated to produce the best that was in them. 

Dagmar had developed wonderfully since her aunt's 
death, for there is nothing which so rapidly matures in- 
telligent youth as a great sorrow. At the time when 
her parents died she was too young to realise her loss, 
and her aunt had never allowed her practically to feel 
it. Charlotte had been father and mother to her or- 
phaned child. But now Dagmar was old enough to 
understand her bereavement and to sorrow accordingly ; 
though even yet it was the sorrow of springtime, when 
the clouds do not return after the rain. As long as she 
lived Miss Fallowfield's strong personality had absorbed 
and overshadowed her niece, but when the elder lady 
was gone, the girl suddenly grew up and entered into 
her own inteUectual kingdom. 

It so often happens in the case of two people who 
are intimately connected with one another that, as long 

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as they are together, their diversities of character are 
marked ; but as soon as they are separated, the Bimilari- 
ties between them come to the front. So it was with 
Charlotte and her niece. In the lifetime of Miss Fal- 
lowfield Dagmar seemed to be the child of her Irish father 
rather than of her English mother, but the girPs Hi- 
bemianism was purely superficial At heart she was 
typcially Mercian, as her mother and her mother's sis- 
ter had been ; she was a true daughter of the people who 
dwell in that middle-land which lies on either side of the 
roads which traverse England, from the marshes of 
the south and east to the shores of the western sea ; the 
land of peaceful, homely beauty, of cheerful progress, 
and of practical success; the land where merchandise 
counts for more than mysticism and prosperity for 
more than romance ; the great plain of the Via Media^ 
the country of the middle way. 

Dagmar was imbued with the spirit of the road as 
deeply as was Claude with the spirit of the mountain. 
While he longed to worship his Maker on solitary peaks 
and in secret places — ^to see the Divine Vision on the 
Mount of Transfiguration, and there to raise a taber- 
nacle to conmiemorate what he had seen — she desired 
just as earnestly to minister to the Christ in the person 
of His little ones, and to fulfil, by her duty towards her 
neighbour, her duty towards God. Perhaps the super- 
natural side of her mission was not so plain to her as it 
was to Claude ; she was more apt than he to lose sight 
of the Creator in the creature, and to dwell upon the 
outward and visible signs of life's sacraments rather 
than upon their inward and spiritual grace ; for she, no 

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more than he, could escape from the defects of her 

Her residence with her aunt had been the seed-time 
of Dagmar's existence. Though it did not take much 
apparent effect at the time, Charlotte's broad views and 
vigorous intellectual life were now beginning to bear 
fruit. In short, Dagmar was learning to think for 
herself, but to do so according to those lines which 
Charlotte Fallowfield had laid down. 

It was not likely that a young woman of such men- 
tal activity as Dagmar Silverthome would be long in 
making up her mind how to dispose of the large for- 
tune which seemed to be within her grasp. It was 
no hardship to her, any more than it was to Claude, 
to feel bound by an imperative obligation to spend the 
bulk of the money in charity. They would either of 
them probably have done so eventually, had Mrs. For- 
rester expressed no wish at all upon the matter, for 
they were both essentially altruistic and philanthropic, 
though their altruism and philanthropy took such dif- 
ferent forms. But this oneness of desire to spend the 
fortune in charity, whichever of the two inherited it, 
was a bone of contention rather than a bond of har- 
mony between them. 

Saint Paul was far advanced on the pilgrim's road 
when he said, " Grace be to all who love our Lord Jesus 
Christ in sincerity." The majority of men — ^and 
women, too — both saints and otherwise, would prefer 
to substitute for the word " sincerity " the phrase ** in 
our own particular way." It is often easier to pardon 
the people who do wrong than the people who do right. 

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but not as we ourselves do it ; to forgive actual sinners 
than rival and oppositions saints. At least so Claude 
and Dagmar found it at this particular point in their 
respective careers. 

Each could have pardoned the other for wishing to 
spend the fortune in selfish pleasure and luxuries, as 
the loser would thereby have clothed him or herself in 
the robe of martyrdom, a most efficient waterproof 
against the waves of adversity ; but neither could quite 
forgive the other for possessing equally good intentions 
as he or she possessed, and yet proposing to carry them 
out in a totally diverse fashion. 

Miss Silverthome's idea with regard to her aunt's 
fortune was that it should be spent upon the building 
and endowing of an orphanage for girls. She, too, had 
had her castles in the air, though they were more prac- 
tical and less poetical in their structure than Claude's, 
and they had always taken this particular form. Their 
reasons for taking this form were twofold. In the first 
place Dagmar was strongly imbued — ^as the best women 
always are — ^with the maternal instinct. Her heart 
leapt at the sight of a little child. She never saw child* 
ish suffering without yearning to aUeviate it, or childish 
sorrow without longing to turn it into joy. Moreover, 
she loved to play with children — ^to hear their little 
voices whispering in her ears, and to feel their tiny 
hands clinging round her neck; and the thought of a 
large, cheerful house tenanted by little ones, who would 
otherwise be homeless, filled her with an ineffable delight. 

It is just possible that there may be good and ex- 
cellent women who have no natural love for children. 

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but they are of the same genus as the dodo and the roe 
and the sea-serpent, and it is extremely doubtful if 
their existence is anything but legendary. The women 
who dislike children may upon the surface appear agree- 
able and amiable creatures, but as a rule they are whited 
sepulchres, concealing some secret and hidden rotten- 
ness within. They may pride themselves upon neglect- 
ing the nursery for the sake of the social circle or the 
political platform; they may maintain that the office 
of a mother is inferior to that of an epoch-maker or a 
leader of society. Nevertheless, nine times out of ten, it 
would be better for these child-haters that a millstone 
should be hung roimd their necks and they themselves 
cast into the sea, than that they should offend one of 
those little ones whose angels do always behold the 
Face of the Father. 

In the second place, Dagmar was one of the modem 
school of young women who feel an immense interest in 
any sympathy with their own sex. It used to be the 
fashion for women to admire and idealise men, to regard 
the latter as infinitely superior beings to themselves, and 
to consider marriage in the light of a boon received 
rather than a favour bestowed. But we have changed 
all that. Although we still believe in the subjection of 
the wife and the obligation of the marriage-yoke, we 
have ceased to subscribe to the cult of the thrown hand- 
kerchief. We will still obey our husbands when once we 
have married them, but nothing will induce us to admit 
that it was they and not we who originally conferred the 
favour. The humility of the female passed away with 
the Victorian era ; a modern woman could no more write 

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Mrs, Browning's Sonnet from the Portuguese than she 
could emulate Ellen in the Wide Wide World. But the 
sisterhood of woman has a far stronger claim upon her 
than it had upon her grandmothers, and she would do 
far more for her fellow-women than her great-aunts 
would ever have done. Thus it has come to pass that the 
proverbial spite of women against each other is a played- 
out bogey, as dead as many another doornail of the past* 
Nowadays women admire one another's beauty and tal- 
ents quite as much as men admire them, and are quite as 
ready to do justice to and appreciate the same. More- 
over, there has sprung up a spirit of camaraderie and 
loyalty among womankind which was almost unknown 
in past generations. Except in particular and excep- 
tional instances, women have ceased to be rivals and have 
become friends. 

In this respect Dagmar Silverthorne was verily and 
indeed of her day and generation : the cause of woman- 
kind lay very near her heart. This spirit had been nur- 
tured and fostered in her school-days ; and, since Mrs. 
Forrester's marriage, Miss Perkins — who was an able 
woman in advance of her times — ^had continued the pro- 
cess during her sojourn at Dinglewood as Dagmar's 
chaperone and companion. Charlotte Fallowfield had 
shared the mid-Victorian adoration of the male in gen- 
eral and the want of any deep sympathy with her own 
sex. She was one of the women (and they are fast going 
out of fashion) who openly pride themselves upon pre- 
ferring the other sex to their own. Of course, women of 
this persuasion still abound, and will continue to do so 
as long as the world stands, but they no longer openly 

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declare their preference; they rather veil it imder an 
assumed affection for their female acquaintances. But 
poor Charlotte instinctively regarded every other woman 
as her rival, and looked upon her with suspicion and 
jealousy. Hence her life was rendered more lonely than 
it would otherwise have been, as this attitude of mind 
cut her off from the great and enduring delight of 
friendship with members of her own sex. And perhaps 
it not only shut her out from the pleasures of friendship ; 
it may have closed to her the gates of love as well ; for 
the women who cherish such a profound admiration for 
men are apt to expect their idols to be as perfect as they 
imagine them, and are woefully disappointed when these 
latter do not turn out to be the heroes which they 
never for a moment pretended to be. The woman who 
adores man in the abstract is apt to appear to man in 
the concrete as a bit of a bore; for men as a rule 
do not want their virtues idealised, but their weak- 
nesses condoned ; therefore she is generally fated either 
not to marry at all, because she can find no man 
who adequately fulfils her impossible and somewhat 
schoolgirlish ideal of manhood, or else to marry im- 
happily for herself, and still more unhappily for her 
husband, because she wiH spend the rest of her life in 
pimishing him for not being the heroic creature which 
he never pretended or hoped or even desired to be. 

But on this point, at any rate, Dagmar differed fun- 
damentally from her aunt. She did not dislike men- 
she even intended eventually to marry one — but she re- 
garded them as in no way superior to women except in 
their better fortune. It was for them that the world had 

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been made; taken as a whole, women were profoundly to 
be pitied, and Dagmar was as yet young enough to con- 
sider herself equal to the task of regulating and repair- 
ing the scales of Justice when these important instru- 
ments were out of order. 

Therefore she intended — should Fortune favour her 
— ^to build an orphanage for girls of the middle and 
professional classes, and for girls only, so that, at any 
rate in one instance, the luck should be on the female 
side. This orphanage should be large and bright and 
airy, fitted with every modem comfort; and there 
should be a beautiful garden all round it, where the 
children might play to their hearts' content. There 
they should spend their childhood and their girlhood, 
and there be trained and educated to take their respect- 
ive parts in the world. And she herself should rule over 
them, like a girlish mother-superior, and have them 
taught to become the sort of woman whereof she herself 

Such was Dagmar's dream of what would happen 
should the Probate Court decide that her aimt's fortune 
was now hers. 

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It was on a bright morning in early autumn that 
Dagmar came out of Dinglewood Park gates on to the 
old high-road. There had been a slight frost in the 
night, and the cobwebs accordingly were draping the 
hedges in that veil of thick white lace which the latter 
only wear except on an autumn morning. The village 
looked very picturesque in the soft, clear sunshine, with 
its tall church spire tapering up into the pale blue sky ; 
and the distant view had all the charm of mystery, 
enveloped in the white mist which the sun had not yet 
dispelled. And as Dagmar came out of the great iron 
gates and stood in the broad highway, she heard the 
call of the road sounding in her ears — that call to 
strange quests and wonderful adventures which youth 
and health always hear when they stand in the centre 
of a great high-road and see its tempting path going 
forth, on the right hand and on the left, into the distant 
stretches of the unknown. The spirit of the road — the 
instinct which is for ever saying to the people " Go 
forward '* — ^was strong upon Dagmar at that moment, 
and she felt a longing to go forth to meet her fate. 

As she came out of the gates, Claude happened to 
emerge from the Vicarage — a coincidence which would 
have been more remarkable had not the vicarage win- 


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dows commanded the drive leading from the Hall to the 

. "Where are you off to?" he asked, coming across 
and joining Dagmar. 

** For a good long spin ; I feel just in the mood for 
it. I want to walk off all those tiresome cobwebs that 
Mr. Duncan has been weaving in my brains for the last 
few months. I'm getting thoroughly sick of that silly 
old fortime, and I should wish it was out of existence if 
it wasn't for the orphanage." 

" For the monastery, you mean." The rival claims 
of the two opposing charities formed a never-ending 
subject of argument between the two yoimg people. 

" No, I don't ; I mean the orphanage." 

** I say, may I come with you? I feel rather in the 
mood for a good walk myself," asked Claude. Dagmar 
might hold sadly distorted views as to the wisest man- 
ner of laying out a fortune, but she had the prettiest 
of ways and faces, and a tale of but twenty-one years. 

She acceded gracefully. Youth clings to youth, even 
though there may be differences of opinion in the air. 
" Of course you may, if you'll be nice and sensible." 

** I'm afraid I am never very nice, but I always try 
to be sensible," replied the young man humbly. 

" Well, that's funny ; because you nearly always suc- 
ceed in being nice and hardly ever in being sensible." 

Claude felt that he ought to be annoyed by this 
remark, but, strange to say, he felt distinctly elated. 
** After all, it is far better to be nice than to be sensible, 
of which truth you yourself are a bright and shining 
instance," he said. 

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Dagmar suddenly stood still. 

"What do you mean by that? I am always both," 
she exclaimed. 

But Claude's passion for truth could not let this 
statement pass unchaUenged. 

" Oh ! no, Dagmar. Always nice and charming and 
delightful and bewitching, I admit, but not quite always 

"Invariably," retorted Dagmar, continuing her 
progress with her chin in the air. 

Claude was nothing if not infallible. " No, no, Dag- 
mar ; not about the orphanage, for instance." 

" Yes, yes, Claude. It is in the matter of the orphan- 
age that my sense — always at concert-pitch — reaches 
boiling-point, and blossoms like the American aloe." 
Dagmar excelled in mixing her metaphors. 

** But, my dear Dagmar, you must see for yourself 
that it is far more important to train men for the 
ministry than women for the hearth." 

" Oh ! please don't alliterate, and say * Men for the 
ministry ' — it reminds me so of poor Octavius Rainbrow. 
I make a rule of never using two words that begin with 
the same letter, for fear I should grow like him. I 
daresay it is very horrid and in shocking taste of me 
to remember that Octavius alliterated, now that he is 
dead. I ought only to recall his good points, and the 
words he used that began with different letters; but I 
can't see that people's being dead makes them any dif- 
ferent when they were alive, and it is aU such humbug 
pretending that it does." 

" I don't agree with you." (He never did agree 

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with her.) " To me it seems that death sets a sort .of 
halo round the departed — makes them somehow sacred 
and sanctified, don't you know.** 

But though reverence might be one of Claude's most 
marked virtues, his present audience was totally inca- 
pable of appreciating that side of his character. *^ No, 
I don't know anything of the kind. At least, it doesn't 
make them sacred and sanctified to me, unless they were 
sacred and sanctified when they were alive. And it's 
simply absurd to say that training men for the pulpit 
is more important than training women for the hearth- 
rug, as you call it — simply absurd! Because, after 
all, it is what men have learnt on the hearth-rug that 
they preach in the pulpit ; it is the hand that rocks the 
cradle that really trains men for the ministry — ^far 
more than your old brotherhoods and monasteries and 

Claude sighed. It was so difficult to get Dagmar to 
see things from the right point of view — almost as dif- 
ficult as to get her to confine her remarks to any subject 
which happened to be under discussion. She was always 
flying off at a tangent on some side issue which had 
nothing whatever to do with the matter in hand, and 
Claude's mind — ^which travelled slowly but surely — 
often found it impossible to follow her. 

"How quickly you change the subject," he said; 
^ you often quite confuse me. You were talking about 
my monastery, and then you suddenly flew off to Octa- 
vius Rainbrow and respect for the dead; and then, 
before I'd had time to come up to you, you were back 
at the monastery again." 

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** But your mind is a most awfully slow one, Claude ; 
I should change it if I were you. People are often all 
the better for changing their minds. You might ad- 
vertise in the Exchange and Mart, * Wanted to ex- 
change: a one tortoise-power mind for a twenty-five 
hare-power one.' You'd find it a vast improvement. 
And as to the monastery, I wish you'd give up the idea 
altogether. Monasteries are most awfully silly things 
really; I know they are." 

" Oh! Dagmar, how can you say that? Why, it was 
the life of the monasteries that was the inspiring and 
vital force of England in the Middle Ages, the cohesive 
power that held everything together." 

Dagmar tossed her head disdainfully. ^*I daresay 
they were useful enough then, before anything more 
sensible had been invented. But now we've got rail- 
ways and telegraphs and telephones and newspapers 
to cohese us and hold us together, so we needn't trouble 
the monasteries any further. Stage-coaches were very 
useful in their day, and so were rushlights and coats of 
armour; but you'd consider me rather an idiot if I 
suggested to spend Aunt Charlotte's fortune in sup- 
plying the British Army with first-class fourteenth- 
century coats of mail." 

"But I'm not suggesting to build a fourteenth- 
century monastery, Dagmar. I'm suggesting to build 
a twentieth-century one, to deal with twentieth-century; 
difficulties and to meet twentieth-century needs." 

"Well, I call it a ridiculous idea altogether — ^most 
impracticable! Can't you see that the great thing is 
to get hold of the children, and that if the children are 

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properly trained, the men and women are bound to be 
all right?'' 

" I don't care for children," replied Claude coldly. 

•*Not care for children? Then you can't really be 
a nice man; there must be something radically bad in 
you which will rise to the surface some day and totally 
undermine the rest of your character." 

" I mean I'm not fond of them as you are ; not inter- 
ested in them as I am in men. And, besides, you don't 
propose to train them into good men — only into good 
women, as far as I understand." 

" I'll tell you what," said Dagmar, with the air of 
one who was meeting her adversary half-way ; ** if I 
get the money I'll build an orphanage for girls, and if 
you get it, you can build an orphanage for boys. I 
should quite approve of that. It would be far more 
sensible than that ridiculous monastery notion." 

Claude sighed again. It was hopeless to try to ex- 
plain to her all that the idea of the monastery meant 
to him ; as a rule, women had such strange ways of look- 
ing at things, and such tiresome limitations. If only 
his mother had lived, he thought, she would have under- 
stood all his mystical dreams and longings ; but she was 
an exceptional woman, while Dagmar was quite ordinary 
and typical. 

"If only you'd do that," continued Dagmar, still 
graciously making concessions, " I shouldn't at all mind 
if the fortune went to you. In fact, I should be quite 
pleased, and not a bit nasty or jealous about it. I'd 
just as soon you had it as not, if you'd do with it what 
I want." 

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** Naturally," replied Claude, repressing a smile. He 
was too young to have a very fully-developed or subtle 
sense of humour, but he could not fail now and again 
to recognise the charming inconsistencies of the gentler 
sex as exemplified by Miss Silverthome. 

" Well, then," urged Dagmar, in a caressing voice, 
edging a little nearer to him as they walked ; " won't 
you promise to do what I want, even if the money does 
come to you?" 

** But an orphanage for boys wouldn't be what you 
want. You want an orphanage for girls, I believe." 
How inconsistent women were ! 

" Oh, I'll give up the girls and let you have the boys, 
if the fortune comes to you, as you like boys so much 
better than girls ; and, after all, they are both children, 
and it is children that I love and long to help. And, 
you see, you can bring up the boys in such a way that 
they'll all grow up simply yearning to become clergy- 
men, and that'll turn out a million times better for the 
Church as a whole than your old monastery plan," 

For a moment Claude was almost tempted to yield, 
Dagmar's eyes were so very blue and so very sweet 
as they looked up into his. Then he hardened his 

" No, Dagmar, you mustn't tempt me to give up the 
dream of my life, and to neglect that service to the 
Church which, I believe, I have been specially called to 
perform. If I gave it up to please you, I should feel 
myself no better than Herod the Tetrarch when he cut 
off the Baptist's head in order to please a woman." 

" But she wasn't a very nice woman, and it isn't very 

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polite of you to compare me to her," retorted the young 
lady with some justice. 

"I wasn't comparing you to her — Heaven forbid I 
I was only comparing myself to him." 

But Dagmar was o^ at her usual tangent. " That 
reminds me of a picture in the Sunday-book I had when 
I was a child, the description of which I always read to 
myself as * Salome dancing before the Tea-tray.' And 
it seemed to me a most stiitable name for the picture^ 
as the girl was pirouetting before a lot of people sitting 
at a meal, presimiably aftenopon tea. I remember how 
Aunt Charlotte laughed when^SI first read it to her ; 
and it was years before I foun^ out what she had 
laughed at." 

"It certainly was rather funny ,'\Claude admitted. 

" It was a most apt and sensible r^ndering of the 
passage," replied the translator proudly\ " another in- 
stance of that sound sense I mentioned a yew minutea 
ago, which has dogged my footsteps across\the sea of 
life ever since I first left the parental nest a^d began 
to flutter my own wings, and which has now cuBpinated 
in the idea of the orphanage." 

Claude's face fell. He did so wish she would" 
clear of that dreadful orphanage for a bit; no socto^r 
did they begin to get on nicely together than eitl^r 
the monastery or the orphanage cropped up and 
everything. ' \ 

" You always look glum when I mention the orphan- > 
age," Dagmar continued, " which shows you must have "^ 
a horrid disposition." 

Claude defended himself. " Not at all. You do more \ 


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than look glum when I mention the monastery; you 
indulge in open abuse.*' 

"Oh, that's quite different, because there's nothing 
deserving abuse in an orphanage, and there's every- 
thing deserving abuse in a monastery. And, besides, 
it's much better to abuse than to look glum. I'd a 
million times rather have a hasty temper than a sulky 

" And, anyway — even if I do not altogther approve 
of your idea — I never call it silly, as you do mine," 
Claude still pleaded. 

"For the very good reason that it isn't silly, and 
yours is." 

Claude looked hurt. " I can understand you're not 
altogether falling in with my scheme, but I don't see 
how you can call it exactly silly." 

**Well, I do; most awfully, dreadfully, frightfully 
silly. That's exactly what I should call it." 

"And do; but I think still you are wrong in so 

" I call nunneries fearfully silly, too," Dagmar per- 
sisted. " It seems to me absurd to shut a lot of women 
up in a house together, with no chance of getting mar- 
ried, and the most hideous clothes you can conceive of. 
So awfully dull for the poor things. Of course, I think 
that women are intended for something even better 
than domestic life — they should take their proper place 
in the world alongside of men — ^but even the hearth- 
rug, as you call it, is better than the nunnery. And 
then there are no children in a nunnery either, and 
there is nothing in the whole world so heavenly as 

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children. Even the Bible — ^which is always right about 
everything — ^says how happy people are who have their 
quiver full of olive branches; and that just shows what 
a lot the Bible teaches about children ! " 

" There are convent schools. Many nuns devote 
themselves entirely to the education of the young." 

'* Then these aren't so silly as the others ; I'll admit 
that. But you don't propose to have any children 
taught in your monastery ; only horrid young men." 

" Fve told you, Dagmar, that I am not particularly 
interested in children. They don't appeal to me." 

'^ Then that shows, as I've said before', that there 
must be something very wrong about you. You are 
like a whited sepulchre that looks ripe outside, but is 
really rotten at the core." And Dagmar shook her 
head in marked disapprobation. '* I simply adore chil- 
dren, as you know ; and I shall have my orphanage full 
of the dear little things. And I shall not confine it to 
orphans who have no parents; I shall let in orphans 
whose parents are too poor to educate them properly, 
and I shall encourage well-bom and impecunious 
parents to send their children to me; and well-bom 
and impecunious parents, who haven't any children, to 
send me their little nephews and nieces. I want to help 
children, especially girls; and most especially girls of 
the better classes — professional men's daughters and 
people like that — ^because I think life is so dreadfully 
hard for refined and well-bred girls who haven't got 
any money." 

" You are right there," said Claude ; " there are no 
people to whom life is harder." 

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** So Aunt Charlotte always said. And just think 
how you'd be robbing those poor little girls if you go 
and build your tiresome old monastery! The Society 
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ought to 
tackle you before you take the bread out of those poor 
children's mouths and build monasteries with it." 

*' You are certainly right in saying that life is cruelly 
hard for impecunious women of the better classes — 
especially if, as is usually the case, they have never 
been trained to earn their own living," said Claude, as 
usual abreast of the last remark but one. 

** And if they don't marry," added Dagmar, " which 
they usually don't nowadays. I wonder how it is that 
so many more men marry than women? " 

"But they can't. Every man who marries must 
marry a woman, so the same number of men and women 
must get married." 

** Then how is it that there are so many more single 
women left on hand than single men? " demanded Dag- 
mar triumphantly. "It proves that more men marry 
than women if there are fewer left single." 

" Not a bit of it. It proves that there are more 
women than men to begin with ; so that when an equal 
number of both are married, more women than men 
must necessarily be left." 

•* Well, that comes to the same thing. How you do 
quibble about trifles ! " 

Just then the hoot of a motor-car was heard behind 
them, and the two young people stepped off the road 
on to one of its broad, grassy margins so as to leave 
the vehicle — ^which was dashing along at most illegal 

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speed — room for its unhallowed progress. At that very 
moment a tiny child came out of one of the cottages 
they were passing, and began to toddle across the road 
right in front of the flying monster. Swift as thought 
Claude dashed after the baby, and snatched it to one 
side as the car was close upon them. For an instant 
Dagmar shut her eyes, unable to repress a shriek, as 
she fully expected to see both Claude and the child 
lying dead upon the road in the wake of this Jugger- 
naut's car; but when she opened them again, Claude 
was standing safe and sound by the side of the road, 
the little boy crowing in his arms; and the vehicle — 
which had so nearly caused their destruction — ^was 
diminishing to a speck in the distance. 

Mingled emotions surged up in the girl's heart. Ad- 
miration for the physical courage which had proved 
equal to such a test, and something warmer than ad- 
miration as she saw Claude tenderly hold the child for a 
second, and then give him back to the mother, who had 
rushed out of the cottage in a perfect frenzy of 

"That was simply splendid of you!" she said, her 
sapphire eyes wet with tears, as he came across the road 
and joined her again, with aU the easy nonchalance of 
a young Englishman who has just performed an heroic 
action and is slightly ashamed of his own heroism. 

"Oh, it was nothing," he replied carelessly; "any 
other fellow would have done the same." 

Then compunction added itself to Dagmar's other 
feelings. " I'm sorry I called you a whited sepulchre," 
she said ; " it was horrid of me." 

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Claude laughed. " Oh, no, it wasn't. I daresay you 
were quite right, and that I am a bit of a humbug.'' 

** But you're the right sort of a humbug, Claude ; 
you are ever so much better than you make yourself 
out to be. And you said you didn't care for children ! " 

** Well, no more I do ; I'm not a good hand at dang- 
ling them round and talking a lot of rot to them, don't 
you know. That sort of thing bores me. But I wasn't 
going to let a poor little beggar like that be cut into 
mincemeat if I could prevent it; that was quite a 
difFerent thing." 

Dagmar was silent. To tell the truth, she was feel- 
ing rather small. She also was learning the lesson that 
a man must be judged by his deeds rather than by his 
words, a lesson which no woman completely masters 
while she is very young, and which the majority of 
women never master at all. 

" By Jove ! " exclaimed Claude ; " here's old Duncan 
coming riding along the road. I wonder what he 
means by playing about like this in office hours." 

" I know," Dagmar replied with swift feminine intui- 
tion ; " he is coming to tell us the decision of the Court 
about Aunt Charlotte's money." 

" What makes you think that? " 

" I don't know what makes me think it, but I'm sure 
of it, all the same." 

The two young hearts beat fast as the elder man 
approached them and drew rein. Neither could hide 
their excitement at the thought of the momentous de- 
cision that was about to be announced to them. They 
had felt that they were going to meet their fate as they 

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started out on the high road that morning, and they 
had met it. 

" I was just coming to see you young people,'* Mr. 
Duncan began, " on a matter of important business.'* 

Dagmar interrupted him. "I know, I know; you 
have come to tell us the decision of the Court. What 
is it? Please tell us at once and put us out of our 

The lawyer hesitated. 

'* Hurry up,'* urged Dagmar ; " we both want dread- 
fully to know." 

" Well, then, my dear young lady, it is my duty to 
inform you that the Probate Court has followed the 
precedent of its decision in the case of Sugden v. MiUs^ 
and has settled that in all human probability a husband 
would survive his wife on the occasion of a shipwreck, 
being the stronger and more vigorous person of the two. 
Therefore, the fortune descends to Forrester, as being 
his father's heir-at-law." 

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As the following winter was a mild one, with hardly any 
frost and snow, Claude was able to begin work upon 
his monastery at once ; and by the time the spring came 
not only were the foundations laid, but the walls were 
beginning to rise from the ground. No time was wasted 
in the designing of plans, as the young architect had 
devoted himself to collecting and embodying the dreams 
and sketches of former years and combining them with 
plans for a small but lovely abbey as soon as the bare 
possibility of his inheriting his stepmother's fortune 
was made known to him ; so that by the time the Probate 
Court announced its decision, he was able to put the 
matter at once into the hands of a first-class builder. 

Of course, now that it had entered into the region 
of practical politics, the monastery lost much of its 
mystical and imaginary perfection. Claude found it im- 
possible to reproduce in actual fact the exquisite fabric 
of his dreams, but he succeeded in making plans for a 
monastic house, with a church and seminary attached, 
of small dimensions but considerable beauty, which bid 
fair to resemble, if not to rival, the sacred edifice of an 
earlier and more artistic age. Our realisations always 
fall short of our ideals ; it is in the nature of things that 
they must do so; but if our ideals were not infinitely 


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more beautiful than our realisationsy our realisations 
would not be beautiful at all. 

But though the reality fell short of its architect's 
imaginings, it nevertheless promised to be a most beauti- 
ful structure. If the ages of the strongest faith have 
been the ages of the highest architecture, then surely the 
living faith of an individual architect must have its 
effect upon the work of his hands and his brain; and 
the religious life of Claude Forrester was so real and 
intense that it could not fail to express itself in his 

A great man once described architecture as ** frozen 
music " ; and Claude's heart was so filled with the music 
of the spheres and his existence so attuned to the eternal 
harmony, that his psalm of life took material shape and 
was frozen into the form of a small but exquisite temple^ 
glorious both within and without. 

Like all true artists, he was utterly absorbed in his 
work. He forgot to sorrow for his father, he forgot to 
fall in love with Dagmar Silverthome ; for the time the 
miracle of creation obsessed him, and he had no room in 
his life or in his thoughts for anything else. The joy 
of the creator — ^like all other perfect joys — cannot be 
imagined by any but those who have experienced it, 
and to them it is an ecstasy not to be expressed in words. 
But every real artist — ^be he musician or painter, writer 
or builder — has tasted the nectar of the gods, and has 
slaked his thirst for once at the spring of perennial joy. 
For there is no happiness greater or more godlike than 
for a man to look at the thing which he has himself 
created, which he has formed out of chaos into an 

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embodiment of truth and beauty^ and to see that it is 
very good. 

Therefore, for the time being, Claude Forrester was 
absolutely happy; but Dagmar Silverthome was pre- 
cisely the reverse. 

The decision of the Court had been far less of a 
shock and a disappointment to her than it would have 
been to an older (and a so-called wiser) woman; for 
with the divine unworldliness of youth, she had no idea 
(or rather, perhaps, the true idea) of the value of 
money. The loss of nearly a million sterling left her 
unmoved. True, she mourned the destruction of her 
orphanage in the air, as we all mourn the demolition 
of our cloud-capped palaces; but the idea of it had 
never taken hold upon her as the idea of the monastery 
bad taken hold upon Claude — ^she did not possess the 
artistic nature and temperament. 

But though she was as yet child enough not to sorrow 
over the loss of a fortune, she was quite woman enough 
to sorrow over the loss of a lover ; and it cut her to the 
heart to perceive how Claude was now so absorbed in 
the building of his monastery that he had no room in 
his life for her — she was completely crowded out. 

During the months immediately following the wreck 
of the Euroclydon the two young people had seen a 
great deal of each other, and had been drawn very close 
together by a common sorrow; with the consequence 
that Dagmar had quite fallen in love with Claude, and 
Claude had very nearly fallen in love with Dagmar. 
Had he been less of an artist he would have fallen in 
love with her entirely ; but, as it was, his art became her 

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most formidable rival. She had ranged herself against 
the monastery, and Claude had gradually grown to re- 
gard her and it as antagonistic and opposing claims. 
She had sufficient beauty and wit to hold her own against 
any other woman, but she was powerless against the 
dream of embodied truth and enshrined loveliness which 
Claude had long cherished in his heart, and which he 
was now endeavouring to express in the form of an ex- 
quisite House of God, set in the midst of one of Mercians 
fairest spots. His was a nature with whom the ideal 
would ever be more present than the real. As the 
mother, whom he hardly remembered, had been so en- 
dowed by his imagination with every grace and virtue 
that she had become the ruling influence of his life, 
so the temple, which as yet existed only in his dreams, 
was the centre and mainspring of his existence. Reality 
so often fell short of his expectations that he shrank 
from it as from something which bruised and hurt ; but 
the things which existed only in his own dream-world 
were so glorified by the light of his beautiful if austere 
nature, that they completely satisfied his longing for 
material and spiritual perfection. He was utterly un- 
conscious of the fact that what he was really admiring 
and worshipping was but the image of his own pure 
and exalted character gilded by the glamour of his 
brilliant imagination. He saw his own perfections re- 
flected in other people, and loved and revered those other 
people accordingly. Because he himself was chivalrous 
and high-minded and reverent he took it for granted 
that they were chivalrous and high-minded and reverent 
also, but he was so simple-minded and single-hearted that 

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it never dawned upon him that he was like a bird 
breaking its wings in order to reach its reflection in a 
mirror. Of those others, whom he thus unconsciously 
endowed with his own attributes, he thought all the 
world, but of himself he thought nothing at all. 

Yet, on the other hand, if he had seen other people 
as they really were — if all their faults and follies and 
failings had been suddenly revealed to him— he would 
have had no pity for them at all. He simply would not 
have understood, and would have pardoned nothing be- 
cause he would have comprehended nothing. His duty 
towards God he was ever ready to offer with every 
accessory of exquisite fabric and stately ceremonial; 
but of his duty towards his neighbour he had not as yet 
learnt even the rudiments. He was willing to give his 
goods to feed the poor, and his body to be burned for 
the truth's sake, if needs be : but of the charity which 
suffereth long and is kind he knew nothing whatsoever. 

Such men are the raw material whereof great saints 
and great artists ^re manufactured; but woe betide 
the woman who falls in love with one of them ! Instead 
of wandering in a garden of spices, she will have to 
stand in the outer courts of a temple ; instead of sitting 
by a hearthstone, she will be called upon to kneel before 
an altar whereon fire from Heaven shall descend to 
consume the burnt sacrifice. 

Dagmar was still living at Dinglewood Hall with her 
old schoolmistress. Miss Perkins. With the rest of the 
estate the Dinglewood property liad gone to Claude, 
but in his present bachelor condition he did not want 
to burden himself with a large establishment such as 

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iesa MISS fallowfeeld'S fortune 

the Hall would require; so, with an absence of pride 
which would have been impossible in a man, Dagmar 
decided to rent it from him, leaving the park and the 
gardens in his hands. This she could well afford to do 
on the four thousand a year which her aunt had left 
her; for, though too big for Claude's present needs and 
desires, the house was by no means an enormous one. 
With the common-sense characteristic of a woman, as 
opposed to the proper pride distinctive of a man, Dag- 
mar realised that half a loaf is a more satisfying diet 
than a total absence of bread, and that even if the man 
she loved had not sufficient good taste and right feeling 
as to fall in love with her, she would rather meet him 
constantly as a friend than be cut off from his society 
altogether. This halfloaf policy rarely recommends 
itself to the masculine mind. As a rule, if a man loves 
a woman and cannot marry her, his next alternative 
is to try to forget her as speedily as possible; but a 
woman would rather be the friend of the man she loves 
than nothing at all. If she cannot marry him, she still 
enjoys meeting him out at tea occasionally, and passing 
with him — ^as country people put it — ^the time of day. 
Which shows that sometimes — ^though all tradition 
denies it — she has a stronger sense of proportion 
than he. 

Public opinion in Dinglewood was dead against the 
decision of the Court. To her humbler neighbours it 
seemed a gross injustice that Dagmar should not have 
inherited her aunt's fortune; that this same fortune 
should have gone instead to her aunt's step-son seemed 
even a more flagrant scandal; but that this step-son 

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should propose to spend it upon the building of a 
monastery was the most burning outrage of all ! 

So strong was the current of ultra-Protestant disap- 
proval of this monastery; that it even bore along those 
two historic enemies, Mrs. Sprott and Mrs. Peppercorn, 
side by side on its impetuous stream. For once they 
were one in opposition to a common foe; 

"Well, of all the things I ever heard in my life,'^ 
exclaimed Mrs. Peppercorn, ^* the idea of spending 
poor Miss Fallowfield^s fortune on a monastery beats 
everything. It's the very uptake of aU ! " 

The two ladies had met accidentally in the village 
post-office, and — Shaving concluded their respective 
business transactions — ^had plunged straightway into 
the subject which was occupying all the minds of 

" It is indeed terrible," replied Mrs. Sprott, " how 
terrible perhaps neither of us can as yet realise. When 
I see our dear Church of England beginning to be 
honeycombed with monasteries and nunneries and such 
like abominations, I feel it is time to fling down the 
gauntlet and make a stand.*' The good lady therefore 
squared her already too square shoulders and made 
herself ready for battle. This warlike attitude was, 
however, less impressive in the case of Mrs. Sprott than 
it would have been in that of a more peaceable spirit, 
as her gauntlet was so frequently being flung down that 
the ground, so to speak, had become to her as a glove- 
box; it was there that her gauntlet was usually kept. 

"And it just shows what Miss Fallowfield herself 
thought of monasteries, her marrying a clergyman,'^ 

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added Mrs. Peppercorn. " If she'd have been one in 
favour of shutting up the clergy and making bachelors 
of them, as the Roman Catholics do, would she have 
gone and married one herself when she was nearly fifty 
years of age, I should like to know? '' 

" Certainly not, Mrs. Peppercorn. As you point out, 
she was old enough to know her own mind.'* 

** Old enough to know it and to have forgotten it 
again ! '* 

" It is a terrible thing," remarkjed Mrs. Sprott, " to 
see power placed in hands that are too young and too 
inexperienced to exercise it properly.'* 

Here the postmistress put in a word. " It is a terri- 
ble thing to see power placed in any one pair of hands, 
to my thinking." 

" That depends upon who is at the other end of the 
arms," retorted Mrs. Peppercorn ; " but, for my part, 
I don't hold with the young having too much money to 
dispose of till they've lived long enough to learn not to 
make fools of themselves; and that's a lesson which 
Methuselah himself wouldn't have mastered if he'd been 
like some folks as I could mention." 

" In such cases the only thing to be done is for the 
young to take counsel with older and wiser heads as to 
the spending of their superfluity," said Mrs. Sprott. 
" If only that misguided young man had consulted me, 
I could have directed the course of his beneficence into 
far more deserving and desirable channels. In fact, 
there was one particular charity in which I specially 
wished to enlist his sympathy and interest, if only he 
would have given me the chance." 

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" Then why didn't you ask him to drop In to dinner 
on a Sunday when you'd something specially tasty," 
asked Mrs. Peppercorn, " and mention the matter to 
him then? Nine times out of ten the shortest way to a 
man's pocket is through his stomach." And the worthy 
woman enunciated this strange physiological dogma 
with the convincing air of one who knew. 

"A monastery seems a shocking sort of thing to 
me," remarked Miss Skinner ; " so wicked and mysteri- 
ous and Roman — almost like the Chamber of Horrors 
at Madame Tussaud's " (she pronounced the last word 
to rhyme with Maud). 

Mrs. Sprott fully agreed with her. " It does indeed, 
Miss Skinner. I feel sure that a really nice-minded 
young man would never have thought of such a thing ! " 

But Mrs. Peppercorn shook her head. " Don't be 
too sure of that, Mrs. Sprott. If you knew all the 
things that nice-minded young men think of, I fancy 
you'd be a bit surprised at times." 

" No," continued Mrs. Sprott, ignoring this last re- 
mark, " no really God-fearing young man would have 
ever suggested building anything so Roman and idola- 
trous as a monastery. If he wanted anything in that 
line, surely the Y. M. C. A. supplies all that he could 
desire. Had my Theophilus been in Claude Forrester's 
place, such an idea as a monastery would never have 
entered his head. My son may have his faults, I admit." 

"He has," agreed Mrs. Peppercorn with alacrity; 
" nobody ever denied that." 

" But he would never waste money on anything so 
useless — and I think I may add so unchristian — as a 

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monastery," continued Mrs. Sprott, again ignoring in- 
terruptions. " The Y. M. C. A. is good enough for 
him, I am thankful to say, and he has been a member 
of it for over ten years. Mark my words, there Is some- 
thing radically bad In that young Forrester, or else he 
would never even have allowed his thoughts to run on 
such a thing as a monastery. But what can you ex- 
pect from the son of a man who actually took the 
bread out of my Theophilus's mouth? " Mr. Forrester's 
acceptance of the living of Dinglewood had gradually 
assumed this form In Mrs. Sprott's mind's eye. 

"You can't take something out that was never put 
.in," retorted Mrs. Peppercorn. **As far as I know, 
Mr. Theophilus's mouth was quite empty with regard 
to the living of Dinglewood." 

" But it ought not to have been," sternly replied the 
offended mother; "that Is just what I complain of. 
And I can only mourn over the sad spectacle of a large 
fortune placed in the hands of such a sinful and ig- 
norant and misguided young man as Claude Forrester." 

" It almost makes one begin to doubt the wisdom of 
Providence," said the sceptical postmistress. 

But Mrs. Sprott could not speak evil of the Power 
which, according to her ideas, was just one step higher 
than the Archbishop of Canterbury. " No, Miss Skin- 
ner, nothing should tempt us to do that. Think of our 
dear Church of England and all that we owe to her; 
and remember that it was by the wisdom of Providence 
that she sprang into life at the time of the Reforma- 

"And by whose wisdom was it that the Roman 

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Catholics sprang into life a good bit before then, and 
the Dissenters sprang into life a good bit afterwards ? '* 
demanded Mrs. Peppercorn. 

" I would rather not say," replied Mrs. Sprott, purs- 
ing up her mouth as though it were with difficulty that 
she kept the secret. " But don't tell me that you have 
any sympathy with Roman Catholics on the one hand 
or with Dissenters on the other, Mrs. Peppercorn." 

" I haven't any at all ; but I'm not sure that Provi- 
dence hasn't. And it was the wisdom of Providence that 
you were talking about, Mrs. Sprott, not mine. And 
if you'll pardon me saying so, it is a great mistake to 
take it for granted that because you disapprove of a 
thing, the Almighty is bound to disapprove of it too ; 
because that don't follow at all. If you tell me that 
you can regulate your husband's opinions, I believe you ; 
but if you tell me that you regulate your Maker's opin- 
ions, I don't. And I fancy He often praises the folks 
as we blame, and t'other way about; which ain't par- 
ticularly flattering to us, if we only knew it." 

"Well, if you think that He approves of Claude 
Forrester and the monastery, I can only say I feel con- 
vinced that you are mistaken," replied Mrs. Sprott, 
picking up her umbrella from the counter, where it had 
reposed during the above conversation, and preparing 
to leave the shop ; " and I shall go through the entire 
village from house to house telling the inmates my opin- 
ion of that sinful and ignorant young man, and 
warning them against him and his popish ways, and I 
shall feel that I am thereby doing God service." 

"Well, I very much doubt if He'll think the same. 

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or thank you for your interference," Mrs. Peppercorn 
cried after the retreating figure. " It does not seem to 
me much the sort of job that Christian workers are 
expected to perform. But you, being a parson's mother, 
ought to know better than I do, and I'm sure I hope 
you'll be rewarded according to your work, which is the 
most that any of us can expect. But I wouldn't be 
mixed up in such doings for anything. I do my best by 
the Almighty, and He does His best by me in conse- 
quence, which is more than I could well expect if I went 
about speaking evil of my neighbours." 

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The conversation related in the foregoing chapter oc- 
curred shortly after the decision of the Probate Court 
was made known, and when it had only lately become 
public property that the bulk of the late Miss Fallow- 
field^s fortune had gone to Claude Forrester, and that 
he intended to lay out the same upon the erection and 
endowment of an Anglican monastery ; and, as the weeks 
ran on, and the foundations of this monastery were 
actually laid, the bitter feeling in the village increased 
rather than diminished. 

Mrs. Sprott was especially vituperative. As she had 
promised, she made it her duty to carry on a house to 
house visitation in Dinglewood parish, in order to set 
every inhabitant against Claude Forrester and his 
House of Prayer. And she verily and indeed believed 
that she was thereby showing her loyalty to that re- 
ligion the hall-mark of which is the love that its disciples 
bear towards one another — a form of belief which is 
by no means uncommon. To a great extent she suc- 
ceeded in her unholy mission, since evil is a weed which 
flourishes apaee, while good is a plant of but tardy 
growth, so that before long the innocent and high- 
minded young architect became an object of horror and 
hatred in his late father's parish. Possibly also the 


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demon of envy was standing at the elbow of every 
parishioner, ready to second Mrs. Sprott's efforts ; for 
it is never very hard to beheve ill of those who are 
considerably more fortunate than ourselves. Had 
Claude not been suddenly uplifted to the dizzy heights 
of great wealth, his religious tenets would have been 
regarded as misfortunes rather than as faults, and he 
would have been pitied as insane rather than condemned 
as a criminal. 

For his part he took little or no notice of the enmity 
against him. For one thing, he was to a great extent 
unconscious of it; for a man who is deprived of the 
privilege of intimate female companionship is also gen- 
erally deprived of the advantage of hearing the dis- 
agreeable things that other people are saying about 
him. But if he had heard, it would not have depressed 
him overmuch, for as yet he was too self-centred and 
too deeply absorbed in his own work to take much heed 
to the thoughts and words of other people. He strove 
to create things of beauty for the sake of the things 
themselves, and not of the persons who would look at 
them ; he sought the self -approval of the satisfied artist 
rather than the praise of his fellow men. 

But the plans of his magnus opus were barely com- 
pleted and its foundations scarcely laid, when he was 
awakened from his dream of architectural bliss by the 
calls of a duty which clamoured to be fulfilled. And 
as this call was echoed by the voice of episcopacy, 
Claude had no alternative but to listen and obey. Early 
in the winter the Bishop of Merchester called on Claude, 
and explained that the incumbency of Dinglewood had 

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now been vacant ever since the death of the late vicar, 
his father, but that it had not been filled up again, as 
the presentation to the living was vested in the owner 
of the Dinglewood estate and it had only lately been 
decided by the Probate Court who that owner was. 
Now, however, that the decision was made, and Claude 
had entered into his inheritance, the Bishop pointed out 
to him that it was high time for the young man to take 
up one of the most important duties of his position, 
and to appoint a spiritual pastor for the parish of 
Dinglewood in his late father's place. 

It was characteristic of their respective ages that 
when Miss Fallowfield — ^with nearly half a century's 
experience behind her — had to fulfil the same duty, she 
shrank from relying on her own judgment, and referred 
the matter to the Bishop ; but when Claude — ^with only 
a quarter of a century's wisdom to guide him — ^was 
similarly called upon, he had such perfect confidence 
in his own capacity for the exercise of power that he 
never consulted the Bishop at all. 

The only person whom he did consult was Dagmar. 
That is to say, he told her what he intended to do, and 
then waited for her to approve his decision — ^the usual 
masculine way of asking feminine advice. And Dagmar 
knew what was expected of her, and did it. 

The woman who is so stupid as to believe that 
people ask for her advice and not her approbation, will 
rarely achieve popularity. It is cruel to give a man a 
scorpion when he has asked for an egg, but it is also 
sometimes wise to give him an egg even if he has asked 
for a scorpion. 

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** I want to consult you about Dinglewood," he began. 
" The Bishop rode over from Merchester yesterday and 
told me that it was time for my poor father's successor 
to be appointed, so I have called in to ask your advice.'* 

They were sitting in the pretty morning-room where 
Charlotte Fallowfield had spent so much of her time, 
and where Mr. Duncan had first explained to them the 
intricacies of her last will and testament. 

Dagmar knew that there is only one way in which a 
woman can make a man follow her advice, and that is 
to advise him to adopt the course which he had already 
decided upon before he consulted her. But first she had 
to discover what that course was. 

" It seems a pity to turn you out of the Vicarage 
just for the sake of having a regular clergyman at 
Dinglewood, when what I call the * char-clergymen ' 
seem to manage quite well." 

Claude looked shocked. '^Oh! Dagmar, there must 
be a proper parish priest appointed here in my poor 
father's place. The Bishop has been very good in 
seeing that somebody is sent over here every Sunday 
to take the services; but that does not include any 
pastoral work, and the village is crying out for a 
permanent and regular parson to look after it." 

** It isn't doing anything of the kind. It is quite 
contented to go its own way without being bothered by 
any clerical interference at all." 

" Then it ought not to be." 

**And it quite enjoys listening to the char-clergy- 
men," Dagmar continued, " especially when they happen 
to be Theophilus Sprott." 

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•*I enjoy listening to Theophilus Sprott myself,'* 
said Claude ; " he isn't half a bad preacher." 

Dagmar was quick to take a cue. "He isn't; I 
should call him quite a good one if he didn't remind me 
60 of his mother. But all the time he is in the pulpit 
I keep imagining him in a black bonnet trimmed with 
purple and roses and yellow forget-me-nots ; and there 
before my mind's eye stands Mrs. Sprott." 

** A man is none the worse for being like his mother," 
argued Claude, who was always romantic over the 
maternal relationship. 

" That depends a good deal on what sort of a mother 
he has. For my part I cannot see that a resemblance to 
Mrs. Sprott would prove an additional charm and 
attraction in anybody." 

" I think that Mrs. Sprott is a good woman accord- 
ing to her lights," replied Claude, who did not know 
how fiercely those lights beat upon his own personality 
and blackened every blot. 

** I can't bear her ; I never could." 

Claude's face expressed reproof. ** Oh, Dagmar ! 
you shouldn't take those violent prejudices against 
people, you really shouldn't. It is unworthy of you. 
One should always try to discover the pure and sweet 
kernels which are hidden in the shells of unattractive 
and even repulsive appearances. I grant you that Mrs. 
Sprott has neither grace nor charm, but I believe that 
at heart she is a good Christian woman, and that you 
have no right to say the things against her that 
you do." 

" Well, anyway, the last time I heard her speak of 

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you she called you a fumbling young fool, so I don't 
believe that her kernel is so exceptionally pure and 

Claude was nonplussed for a moment. Dagmar's 
arrow had gone home. Then he said: "Even if she 
does dislike me, she has a perfect right to do so. It 
doesn't prove that she herself is less worthy of respect." 

"Oh! doesn't it? Well, if you want to enjoy the 
sweetness of Mrs. Sprott's kernel, enjoy it to your 
heart's content; I wouldn't rob you of it for worlds; 
only don't ask me to share it with you, for it sticks in 
my throat." 

" It is not Mrs. Sprott's kernel but her son's sermons 
that I wish to speak about," continued Claude, chang- 
ing the subject. " I am glad to hear that you agree 
with me that they are worth listening to." 

, ** Oh, I couldn't have said that, because I don't know ; 
I never did listen to one, so I can't tell whether it would 
have been worth it or not." 

"Then I can assure you it would have been, and 
that you made a mistake not to listen. Sprott is, on 
the whole, an excellent preacher; a little gloomy and 
depressing, perhaps, but his gloom is always pictur- 
esque and his depression poetical." 

" To look at, do you mean? " cried Dagmar aghast. 
** Oh, I don't agree with you. Theophilus may be good, 
but I really couldn't call him pretty." 

Claude smiled indulgently. Slow persons always feel 
very kindly disposed towards quick ones when they 
imagine they have convicted the latter of stupidity. 
** Of course not, you foolish girl ! It is only his Ian- 

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^age that sometimes strikes me as picturesque — ^never 
his appearance." 

"Did you ever see his lodgings?" asked Dagmar. 
** His appearance may be bad, but for sheer hideousness 
it isn't a patch upon his lodgings." 

" How did you come to see them? " demanded Claude 
rather sharply. 

" I once went with Aunt Charlotte about some char- 
ity or other which he helped with; I fancy it was the 
distribution of coal and soup tickets, and that it was 
Theophilus's deal. Anyhow, though Fve forgotten the 
charity, I haven't forgotten what the lodgings were 
like : squalor that smelt of onions, and poverty expressed 
in oilcloth. You know the sort." 

" I do." And Claude smiled. He had a great opin- 
ion of Dagmar's cleverness when it in no way collided 
with his. She certainly had a neat way of putting 
things, he said to himself approvingly. 

"Nevertheless, I like Theophilus," Dagmar added. 
** He admires me." 

" Beastly cheek on his part ! " exclaimed Claude, the 
man in him for an instant rising superior to the 

" Not at all," she retorted airily ; " and if it is, it's 
the sort of cheek I like. Besides, I don't see any harm 
in Theophilus admiring me more than you admiring his 
mother; and you said most flattering things about her 
kernel a few minutes ago, if you remember." 

" That's entirely different." 

" I don't see the difference a bit," replied Dagmar. 
(But she did.) 

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"What I am driving at is that it has occurred to 
me it would be the right and proper thing on my part 
to offer Theophilus Sprott the Kving of Dinglewood^ 
and I want your advice upon the subject." 

" Have you made up your mind? " 

"Practically; but I should like to know what you 
think before I finally decide.** 

" I think it is a splendid idea," cried Dagmar, " and 
so good and generous of you ! Because if you do, you'll 
have to turn out of the Vicarge, you know, to make way 
for the onions and the oilcloth." 

"Of course I know that, you silly child! I shall 
have to do that anyway now. Whoever I appoint as 
vicar I shall have to turn out of the Vicarage; I 
cannot go on living there now that my father is 

"Then where shall you go?" For a second Dag- 
mar's heart stood still. What would she do if he left? 
The village would indeed seem asleep or dead if Claude 
Forrester were away! 

** Oh, you may depend upon it that I shan't be far 
afield until my monastery is finished. I shall probably 
adapt one of the farm-houses on the estate to my own 

Dagmar breathed freely again. He was not going 
away after all. . But she could not stifle a pang at the 
thought that it was the monastery that kept him, and 
not she. And from that moment she began to hate the 
monastery ten times more bitterly than ever, female 
jealousy being now added to Protestant disapproval. 

** Then if you really don't mind turning out of the 

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Vicarage, I don't see why poor Theophilus shouldn't 
have the living. He was frightfully disappointed that 
he didn't get it when your father came. Aunt Char- 
lotte once did intend to give it to him, but then. she 
changed her mind, and asked the Bishop to give it to 
Mr. Forrester because she didn't know whom to sug- 

"Why did she change her mind about Sprott?'* 

** Because he came to dinner and kept on saying the 
wrong things, and thoroughly roughed-up her and 
Mr. Duncan. I saw all the time what he was doing, 
and that he would never step into old Mr. Hanson's 
shoes if he kept putting his foot into it like that; but 
I couldn't stop him. I didn't know him well enough 
to kick him under the table, you see." 

"Of course not. It would have been a most im- 
proper thing to do." 

" It would have saved Theophilus a good deal of 
disappointment and heart-burning if I had. But, all 
the same, I'm very glad I didn't, as in that case you'd 
never have come to Dinglewood, and I should never have 
known you, but should have spent the rest of my life in 
regretting that we'd never met." 

" It might have been a good thing for you and your 
aunt if we had never come to Dinglewood," said Claude 
rather sorrowfully. 

"Oh, never say that! Whatever happens, I shall 
always be glad that you and I were once friends." 

"We'll be friends always — ^not only once," replied 
Claude. And Dagmar had to be content with that, 
and to make the best of her half loaf. 

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** But before you finally decide to give Theophilus 
the living, I think it is right for you to know how his 
mother is working against you," she continued. 

*' Working against me ! What on earth for? '* asked 
Claude, with the surprise of a man who minded his own 
business and took it for granted that other people did 
the same. 

" She so disapproves of the monastery.'* 

**Well, so do you, if it comes to that; but that 
wouldn't prevent me from offering you the living, if 
you happened to be a man and in Holy Orders," replied 
Claude with a smile. 

" Oh, mine is only passive resistance, but hers is of 
the violent and aggressive sort. She has actually been 
to every cottage in the village and told the people what 
a wicked' young man you are, and what a dangerous 
and horrible place the monastery will be, till they are 
as furious with you as if you had suggested to raise a 
convict-prison or a leper-settlement in their midst." 

Claude's face darkened. To say a word against the 
monastery was indeed to touch the apple of his eye. 
" But surely the people have too much sense to believe 
such nonsense? " he argued. 

** Not they ! They believe every word the old woman 
utters as firmly as if she were the author of one of the 
four Gospels, or the editor of a daily paper. People 
always do believe what an ugly woman says, if you 
will notice. I don't know why hideousness is so con- 
vincing, but it is." 

" It is very cruel and unjust of her," persisted 
Claude. " I wanted my monastery to be regarded as 

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a sort of home of rest by the whole neighbourhood, 
where everybody cotdd always go for spiritual help and 

** It never will be ; old Mother Sprott has seen to 
that. She has made the villagers hate the very sight 
of it, even before it is there to be looked at, and the 
mere mention of it stinks in their nostrils already. I 
never meant to tell you this at all, because I don't 
see the good of hearing the nasty things that are said 
of you unless they happen to be nice ones; but I 
couldn't — I really couldn't — ^let you give the living to 
Theophilus without your knowing what a horrible 
mother he is descended from." 

Claude was silent for a moment, while the passion 
to strike back — ^which is inherent in every one of us — 
stirred his whole nature. Then his still stronger pas- 
sion for abstract justice predominated, and he said 
quietly : 

" I don't think it is fair to punish a man for what 
his mother does. It isn't his fault that Mrs. Sprott 
has such a mistaken idea of duty and such a bitter 

" But she may have inherited them from him, don't 
you see? The mistaken sense of duty and the bitter 
tongue may be heirlooms in the Sprott family — in the 
Salic line, of course, for old Mr. Sprott hasn't a vestige 
of either." 

'* Theophilus is just as likely to resemble his father 
as his mother," persisted Claude the Just. 

"Well, he doesn't outside, so I don't know why he 
should inside. He's got a high, corrugated forehead 

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— ^like one of those perambulating iron churches — the 
same as she has, and I daresay it contains a very simi^ 
lar set of brains to hers/' 

"That doesn't follow at all. Very often the child 
who most resembles one parent in appearance most re- 
sembles the other in character." Claude could be very 
obstinate at times. 

" Well, I'm thankful that Mrs. Sprott wasn't either 
of my parents, as I don't know whether it would have 
been worse to resemble her in appearance or in char- 
acter," retorted Dagmar. ** I can't say which I should 
have hated to have most — ^an evil heart or a corrugated- 
iron forehead ; though in my case I should have hidden 
them with a flattering tongue and an amber toupee** 
And then the conversation ended. 

Claude was so terribly afraid of allowing any per- 
sonal feeling to interfere with or bias his judgment that 
his sense of justice was apt, like vaulting ambition, to 
o'er-leap itself, and fall on the other. He was so set 
against helping a man because the latter was his friend, 
that he was almost led to do so if the same happened 
to be his enemy. In avoiding the sensible, if somewhat 
doubtful, Scylla of being too partial a friend, he fell 
into the utterly insane Charybdis of being too indul- 
gent a foe; and his justice tempered with mercy was 
far more comfortable and remunerative to its object 
than his affection diluted with justice. 

Therefore, after the first wave of natural irritation, 
Dagmar's revelations concerning Mrs. Sprott only 
rooted him the more firmly in his decision to offer the 
living to Theophilus. This he accordingly did shortly 

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before Christmas, and it is needless to add that the offer 
was straightway accepted. 

" I always felt," exclaimed Mrs. Sprott, as she sat 
with her husband and her son and her beloved Higgin- 
sons around the convivial turkey on Christmas Day, 
** that, in spite of appearances, young Forrester had an 
excellent heart, and his treatment of Theophilus has 
proved that I was right." 

" Still you didn't altogether truckle to the monastery 
idea, eh, Mrs. Sprott?" said Mr. Higginson, who 
would have winked if there had been anybody to wink 
at. But it is never good manners, or even good policy, 
to wink at her husband or her son when a lady is making 
a fool of herself; and as for winking at his own wife, 
Mr. Higginson had long ago learnt the futility of that 
action. It invariably resulted in Mrs. Higginson ask- 
ing aloud what he was winking at, and then in con- 
demning it as a vulgar habit. 

" Perhaps not," replied the proud mother graciously ; 
** but, on the other hand, I never actually disapproved 
of it. I admit, however, that imtil I rightly appre- 
hended our dear young friend's ideas and intentions in 
raising this ediiSce, I was not as enthusiastic over it 
as I have been since I thoroughly understood what a 
noble and beneiScent institution it is going to be." For 
so stout a woman Mrs. Sprott was a marvellous acrobat 
in the art of climbing down. 

" No ; you weren't exactly what I should call enthusi- 
astic," repeated Mr. Higginson, suppressing another 

" But she is now, aren't you, my dear ? " added Mr, 

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Sprott, who was sunning himself in the light of his 
Susanna's recently acquired amiability. 

" Yes, Timothy, I am. To my mind it is both touch- 
ing and beautiful to see a young man with great pos- 
sessions making so admirable and praiseworthy a use 
of them. Most young men of that age would be spend- 
ing the money on themselves, and thinking only of their 
own pleasures and luxuries ; but, instead of that, we see 
Claude Forrester laying out almost his entire fortune 
upon a home of rest and learning for poor but excellent 
young men, where they can be trained gratuitiously to 
enter the Church." 

" So different, as you say, from the ordinary run 
of rich young men," exclaimed Mrs. Higginson. **I 
remember that my dear papa's friend. Lord Under- 
growth's eldest son, the Honourable Alodphus Ground- 
rent, was most terribly extravagant, and yet never sub- 
scribed to a single local charity — not even the choir 
fund, though he played the banjo himself and was an 
adept at comic songs. But I always think there is 
something very dashing and dare-devil (if you will 
excuse the expression, Mrs. Sprott) about honour- 

" You cannot expect them to be as well brought up 
as the sons of the clergy," replied Mrs. Sprott ; " they 
have not had the same spiritual advantages. It is in 
the homes of the clergy that the seed of truth is most 
successfully sown, as we can see in the case of young 
Mr. Forrester. His father was a holy man and a good 
clergyman, and we see the result in his teaching of his 
son." And Mrs. Sprott sighed as profoundly as if 

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the departed saint had never taken the bread out of the 
mouth of Theophilus. 

The new vicar had been so absorbed in appreciation 
of the turkey that hitherto he had held his peace, but 
now he took his part in the conversation. " Then the 
laity should take example from the clergy, and try to 
bring up their children rather better than they do. 
Look at myself, for instance, and how my career has 
been sacrificed to a rotten system of education. If I 
had been sent to Cambridge, as I ought to have been, 
instead of to Oxford, do you think that I should have 
been content to spend the rest of my life in a wretched 
little village such as this? Not I! By this time I 
should have been one of the foremost men of light and 
leading of the day, and should have taken my proper 
place among my intellectual peers. But the perverse 
fate which has always pursued me pursues me still, and 
condemns me to waste my time and my talents on the 
desert air of a benighted hamlet in the imdiscovered 
heart of the Midlands, in the distasteful and imwel- 
come role of an obscure country clergyman." 

If Mrs. Sprott had expected her son to be happy 
when his heart's desire was attained, she had reckoned 
without her host, and had underrated the almost sub- 
lime strength and power of human discontent. 

" Come, come, Theophilus," cried his father encour- 
agingly, " don't be downhearted ! You couldn't find 
a prettier village in England than Dinglewood, nor one 
with a drier subsoil. For my part I think you are very 
lucky to have secured such a plum at your age ! " 

" At my age indeed ! " repeated Theophilus. " You 

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talk as if I were a youth of eighteen instead of a man 
over forty. Why, at my age I ought to have been in 
a very different position from my present one, and so 
I should be if only my talents had been given full scope, 
and the proper growth of my character had not been 
thwarted at every turn. To be buried alive in a coun- 
try vicarage, with only rustics to preach to, is a sepul- 
ture from which there is no hope of resurrection.'* 

" Really, Theophilus, I am surprised at you ! I 
thought you would be so pleased at getting the living 
at last,'* remarked his mother, who ought to have known 
her Theophilus better. 

He laughed bitterly. " Pleased indeed ! Do you ex- 
pect a man to dance merrily at his own funeral? Din- 
glewood is the grave of all my hopes and ambitions, 
and I suppose I must accept it as such and not com- 
plain; but it is hard for a man to be buried alive at 
forty! However, I ought to be used by now to mis- 
fortune and ill-luck, as I have never known anything 
else since I was bom, and I will endeavour to endure 
them with fortitude and not murmur. But, I confess 
it does strike me as a bit of cruel irony when a man's 
own mother executes a pcLS seul upon his grave, and ex- 
pects him to do the same!" 

Mrs. Sprott was somewhat taken aback at being ac- 
cused of dancing a pas setd; it was a form of exercise 
so utterly out of her line. " Well, anyway, it will be 
a comfortable sitting-down for us all when your father 
is past work," she said. 

But her son speedily disabused her mind of this com- 
fortable idea. " It will be nothing of the kind, my dear 

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mother. I shall probably marry before very long, as 
I do not approve of a celibate clergy ; but even if I re- 
main single, I shall never admit yourself and my father 
to the Vicarage except as temporary guests, as I con- 
sider the patriarchal system singularly unadapted to 
the requirements of modern life. No; I may be con- 
demned to a lot which is utterly uncongenial and dis- 
tasteful to me — ^the lot of a country parson — ^but there 
is no need for me to make that lot even worse than it 
already is by burdening my life with domestic compli- 

"I feel sure that you'll be happier here than you 
think, Theophilus. Dinglewood is such a very dry and 
bracing spot, and so salubrious,'* said Mr. Sprott, still 
clinging bravely to the subsoil in his efforts for peace. 

" And there is such very good society," added Mrs. 
Higginson ; " real county, and in places quite aristo- 
cratic ; and to my mind there is no society so agreeable 
and at the same time so elevating as county society." 

But the martyr turned on her like a lion at bay. 
**And what is the use of good society, I should like 
to know, if by the circumstances of one's birth one is for 
ever doomed to remain outside of it ; if a man, through 
no fault of his own, but because he happens to be the 
Bon of humble and uncultured parents, is perpetually 
condemned to the existence of a pariah? " 

His mother, with true maternal solicitude, put her 
own lacerated feelings on one side, and strove to com- 
fort him. " Clergyman of the Church of England are 
never pariahs, my dear Theophilus. The cloth always 
confers an assured social position upon its wearers; 

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that IS one of Its most valuable characteristics, and one 
of the reasons why I always set my heart — ^like Hannah 
— ^upon giving up my first-bom son to enter the min- 

** That is so,'* added Mrs, Higginson. " I remember 
that dear papa's friend, Lord Oversight, always in- 
vited the vicar of the parish to dinner once a year, if 
not oftener; and it was generally to meet quite a nice 
collection of honourables. And, as the doctor used to 
say, ^ If a man asks you to lunch, he asks you to lunch ; 
but if he asks you to dinner, he asks you to dinner ! ' 
And it is late dinner that I consider the hall-mark of 
respect, and I always shall; and I think a quarter be- 
fore eight is so much more genteel than seven-thirty." 

But Theophilus shook his head and refused comfort. 
** A man has no chance in the neighbourhood where all 
his antecedents are known. County society might have 
thrown open its arms to me had I gone into a new part 
of the country where nobody knew anything about my 
relations, and where I stood entirely upon my own 
merits and attainments. But I have made this for ever 
impossible by accepting the living of Dlnglewood. It 
is all part and parcel of my ill-luck that the only living 
which has been offered to me is the one where my own 
people reside, and therefore where it will always be im- 
possible for me to take the social position to which 
I am by nature and culture entitled." 

From the foregoing conversation it will be seen that 
Claude Forrester's decision to give Theophilus Sprott 
the living of Dinglewood had not made for universal 
happiness. But of this the young Squire knew nothing, 

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and cared less. At the bar of his own conscience Claude 
ever stood in fear and trembling; but to the opinions 
of his neighbours he paid no heed whatsoever. That 
Theophilus was still as miserable as ever was nothing 
to him ; he made the appointment because he conceived 
it to be his duty to do so, and not in order to please 
Theophilus. That the village as a whole hated the ap- 
pointment was nothing to him either; he considered 
that the patron of a living was answerable to God, and 
not to the parishioners- 
It was perhaps strange that, in the first instance, the 
idea of giving the living to the younger Sprott had 
ever entered Claude's head, but having once penetrated 
there in the disguise of a duty, it was not at all strange 
that Claude persisted in it through thick and thin. 
In the first place, he was obsessed by the notion — fre- 
quently dinned into his ears by Theophilus, and by Mrs. 
Sprott when she had the chance — that Miss Fallow- 
field had somehow behaved badly towards that young 
cleric in withholding from him the incumbency of Din- 
glewood and giving it to Mr. Forrester; and that, 
therefore, it was Claude's duty to repair this injustice 
when he had the opportunity. In the second place, 
Theophilus behaved very differently abroad from what 
he did at home, and Claude was still young enough to 
be unduly impressed with anyone who played the part 
of a martyr. The old find pleasure in the society of 
Ji^'-PPy people, but the young have a far greater admir- 
ation for unhappy ones. In the third place Theoph- 
ilus really was an excellent preacher. He might fail 
in practising the Christian graces, but he had no diffi- 

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culty at all in preaching them, and in preaching them 
most effectively; and at five-and-twenty — sometimes 
even later — it is not always easy to differentiate between 
what a man says and what a man is. So that Claude 
was not altogether without a method in his madness 
when he made Theophilus Sprott vicar of Dinglewood. 

As the new year grew older and the days longer, 
Claude became more and more absorbed in the building 
of his monastery, while Dagmar became more and more 
convinced of the hopelessness of her love for Claude. 
The songs of the birds and the voices of the spring 
tugged at her heartstrings, and sometimes almost 
strained them to bursting-point, since it seemed hard 
that love and happiness were New Year's gifts designed 
for everybody except herself. But she bore her sorrow 
with a brave heart and a smiling face, and stifled her 
heart hunger as well as she could with the half-loaf 
that seemed her only ration. 

Then suddenly, at the beginning of March, a bomb- 
eheU f eU. 

Mr. Duncan was sitting as usual in his office, expect- 
ing nothing particular to happen, when a cablegram 
from Australia was brought to him — a not uncommon 
occurrence. He leisurely opened it, and was trans- 
fixed to read these words : 

** Alive and returning home immediately. — Octavius 

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It was a bright afternoon in spring when Octavius 
Rainbrow came back to Merchester. He had tele- 
graphed to his uncle the hour of his arrival, and the 
later had invited Claude and Dagmar to be present at 
the return of the wanderer, in order to hear without 
further delay all that he had to tell them. He had 
written no letter and sent no details ; all that Mr. Dun- 
can knew was the bare fact of his nephew's survival 
of the shipwreck; but where that nephew had been in 
the meantime, and why he had not returned home at 
once, and whether he were the sole survivor, Mr, Dun- 
can knew no more than the man in the moon. 

When the two young people arrived at the lawyer's 
house they found that Mr. Duncan had already gone 
to the station to meet his nephew, and they had to pos- 
sess their souls in as much patience as they could mus- 
ter between them until his return. 

They were naturally very much excited. In the first 
place, with anxiety to hear the last news of their re- 
spective father and aunt, and to learn the accurate de- 
tails of the death of these beloved relatives ; and in the 
second place with curiosity as to whether what Octavius 
had to tell would in any way interfere with the dis- 
posal of Mrs. Forrester's fortune. It was quite pos- 


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Bible — as Mr. Duncan had pointed out to them — that 
Mrs. Forrester might have entrusted Octavius with 
final instructions with regard to her property; she 
might even have made a fresh will and placed it in 
his hands ; so that it was a matter of no small moment 
to the two young people to hear the message which 
Octavius was about to bring. 

"I wonder if he'll be altered much, or if he'll still 
alliterate," said Dagmar, drumming with her fingers 
on the windowpane. She was on the look-out for the 
traveller and his uncle. 

"I don't know," replied Claude, aimlessly walking 
jabout the room, and not attending in the least to what 
his companion was saying. 

*' I don't expect that even a shipwreck would be able 
to knock the nonsense out of Octavius," she went on, 
womanlike hiding her anxiety beneath a multitude of 
words without knowledge. ^^ Ten thousand fleets would 
sweep over him in vain ! " 

Claude said nothing. 

*'I can't think why he didn't come home before,'* 
Dagmar continued ; ** he can't have been at the bottom 
of the sea all this time, you know; and it was very 
horrid of him to stay on there and enjoy himself when 
he must have known how badly we wanted to hear all 
about dear Aunt Charlotte and Mr. Forrester." Here 
her voice broke a little, but she quickly steadied it and 
went on bravely: "But it was just like Octavius to 
think about himself and his own pleasure, and never 
to give a thought to our anxiety and misery ; and now 
that he is no longer dead I don't mind saying things 

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against him — ^which I didn't really much mind when 
he was. Oh, I say, here they are ! " she added, as a 
cab drew up at the door. 

It was a different Octavius that entered Mr. Dun- 
can's drawing-room from the Octavius who had left it 
just a year ago. He looked thirty years older than 
he had looked then; his hair was grey, his face lined 
and worn, and his shoulders were bent like those of an 
old man. As he shook hands with Claude and Dagmar 
he could with difficulty restrain his tears. He was evi- 
dently still suffering from the effects of the nervous 
shock which had prostrated his whole system. He had 
met Death face to face, and the meeting had left its 
permanent mark upon him. 

After he had partaken of some refreshment and re- 
covered himself slightly, he begged his uncle to allow 
him to tell his tale ; and Mr. Duncan, nothing loth, con- 
sented, for he was as anxious as his young clients to 
hear the authentic story of the wreck of the Eurocly- 
don, and his nephew had been too much upset at meet- 
ing him to be able to give him any information at all 
on their short drive from the station. 

" I will try my best to give an accurate account of 
all that happened,'* Octavius began; "but you must 
be patient with me if my narrative halts. I have been 
very ill for months, and my memory is not what it was." 

" Never mind, my boy," said his uncle kindly. " Do 
the best you can, and we will let our imagination fill 
in the rest." 

" It was when we were about half way across the 
Indian Ocean that the monsoons set in," Octavius con- 

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tinued, " and set in with unprecedented violence. For 
a few days we withstood their onslaught, but at last 
they proved even too much for so tried a vessel as the 
Euroclydoriy and we were grounded upon a coral reef. 
I do not exactly know what happened, nor the technical 
reasons why the ship broke loose from all control; I 
conclude that the force and fury of the winds and waves 
in some way deranged the machinery, so that the crew 
had no longer any control over the motion of the vessel ; 
all I do know is that for a day and a night we drifted 
about at the mercy of the storm, and finally came to 
grief upon a coral reef in mid-ocean." 

" Oh ! how dreadful ! " exclaimed Dagmar. 

Octavius shuddered. 

** It was a perfect nightmare of horror, too terrible 
even to think about ! " 

"Then don't think about it more than you can 
help,'' his uncle wisely counselled him. " Tell us the 
whole story once for all, and then strive to banish it 
from your thoughts for ever." 

" For two nights and a day — ^two nights and a day 
that seemed longer than eternity-*— we remained 
stranded, watching in the hope that some passing vessel 
might come to our rescue. But in vain; and on the 
morning of the second day the captain gave orders to 
lower the boats, for the ship was fast going to pieces, 
and could not possibly hold together much longer." 

"And where was my father all that time?" asked 

" He was acting like the Christion hero that he was, 
cheering and encouraging the people, and sometimes 

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praying with them; and he was as cahn and composed 
as if he were in his own church." 

"And Aunt Charlotte?'' 

" She also was an example of courage and fortitude, 
Miss Silverthome, doing all she could to help her fel- 

" Well, what happened then ? " asked Mr. Duncan. 

" The boats were lowered, and the order given that 
the women and children should enter them first. And 
now comes the shameful part of my story, the disgrace 
of which will dog my footsteps to the end of my days. 
I was afraid, and so I pushed forward and jumped 
into one of the boats among the women and children 
before anyone could prevent me!" Octavius hid his 
face in his hands with a groan. 

There was an awkward pause — the pause which 
always follows the confession of an unpardonable ac- 
tion. Mr. Duncan was the first to break it. 

*^ Never mind, my boy, it is too late to alter it now, 
and it is no use crying over spilt milk." 

" There is no forgiveness for an act of cowardice 
such as mine. I know how you must all despise me, 
but not so much as I despise myself ! " And poor Octa- 
vius looked appealingly at his two young judges. 

Claude's face, like Claude's heart, was as adamant. 
He had no pardon and no pity for a convicted coward, 
so he maintained a stem silence. But not so Dagmar ; 
she saw deeper than the young ascetic could see, and 
pronounced judgment accordingly. " But you have 
had the courage to tell us this, which you needn't have 
done. If you had said that you behaved like a hero we 

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should have believed you, and there would have been 
nobody to contradict the story. So I don't see that 
you are such a coward, after all! The coward who 
has the courage to confess he is a coward must be rather 
a brave person. I think the fact that you confessed 
when you needn't have done so will be a decided feather 
in your crown.'' 

The ready tears filled Octavius's eyes* ** Thank 
you, thank you, Miss Silverthome. You are the first 
to restore to me a shred of my self-respect." 

" Of course there is only one way of undoing what 
has once been done," continued Dagmar, ** and that is 
to do better the next time." She spoke as if ship- 
wrecks were usual and frequent occurrences. 

"Yes, yes, Octavius, Miss Dagmar is right. Your 
courage in confessing your cowardice in a measure con- 
dones it — at least in my humble judgment," remarked 
Mr. Duncan. 

But Claude said never a word. 

"In the same boat as myself," Octavius went on, 
'^ was Mrs. Forrester. She was simply splendid in her 
endeavours to cheer the other women, and to comfort 
the poor little children." 

" And my father? " Claude tried in vain to steady 
his voice as he asked the question. 

" He remained on the sinking ship.'^ 

" Perhaps he too escaped in one of the boats," sug- 
gested Mr. Duncan. 

But Octavius shook his head. " No, he did not. 
Ours was the final boat to be lowered. It was only 
when I saw it was my last chance that I forgot my 

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manliood. [And we left Mr. Forrester among others on 
the ship.'* 

" Then you have no idea how long the vessel remained 
above water? " 

" Yes, uncle, I have. It went down before our very 
eyes while it was still in sight. The sea had cahned 
down by that time and the atmosphere was very clear, 
and when we were about four or five miles distant we 
saw the ship heel over and go down into the sea. And 
that was the end of the Euroclydon** 

** Dear me, dear me ! '* was all that Mr. Duncan said ; 

but his face was very grave and his thoughts were 

busy. Here indeed was a new development of affairs! 

'' "And what happened to Aunt Charlotte?'' asked 

Dagmar. * 

** As I have said, she was very brave, never thinking 
of her own sorrow, but ministering instead to the needs 
of others. And yet her case was an exceptionally sad 
one — ^a bride bereft of her husband on her honeymoon, 
a widow almost as soon as she was wed." 

** He is feeling better,'' said Dagmar to herself; " he 
is beginning to alliterate. Our Richard is on the high* 
road to become himself again." Aloud she remarked, 
"That was just like Aunt Charlotte!" 

"It was! it was! As it was just like me to fail at 
the crucial moment, and to write TeTcel in letters of 
fire across my own name." 

"Never mind about your own name; tell us more 
about the shipwreck,'* Dagmar pleaded. 

Octavius shuddered. " Then followed an awful time ; 
I can hardly bear to think of it, even yet. For two 

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days and two nights we drifted in that little boat across 
the waste of waters, feeling ourselves entirely at the 
mercy of the waves. We had very little food, and 
nothing to drink; and every few hours one or more 
of the occupants of the boat died and had to be thrown 
overboard. Oh! it was a ghastly experience! I won- 
der I ever lived through it.'' 

Dagmar's eyes were full of tears. "It must have 
been awful!'* 

" It was. Words can never describe how awful ! 
Four of the children died in my arms, and I had to 
throw their poor little bodies into the sea myself.'* 

** And where were the mothers? " asked Claude. 

"Dead already of exposure and privation." And 
Octavius was so much overcome at the memory of that 
dreadful voyage that for a minute he could say no more. 

"Tut! tut!'* said Mr. Duncan, carefully wiping 
his spectacles. ** It was indeed a terrible business. I, 
too, wonder that anyone survived to tell the tale ! " 

" But as he did survive to tell it, he'd better do so," 
suggested Dagmar, with her usual common sense. 

Octavius went on : " At the end of the second night 
there was no one left alive in the boat except Mrs. For- 
rester and myself; and she was by that time quite de- 
lirious. All that day she lingered on in a state of piti- 
able exhaustion, talking in snatches about bygone 

The tears were now running down Dagmar's cheeks. 
"What sort of things did she talk about? Did she 
mention me?" 

" Not as you are now, Miss Silverthome ; but she 

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kept saying, *Give me the baby to hold, Phoebe; give 
me little Dagmar to nurse for a minute, she is such a 
dear little thing ! ' And then she said, * How I envy 
you, Phoebe, to have a dear little baby, of your very 
own ! ' I think that she was talking about you then, 
but about you when you were an infant. She seemed 
quite to have forgotten that you had grown up.'* 

" Did she say anything about her money, and what 
she meant to do with it? '* asked Mr. Duncan. 

** Not a word. She appeared to have forgotten her 
fortune entirely, and everything connected with it.'' 

**Then I fear we can get no further light there.'' 
And Mr. Duncan sighed. 

"What did she say about my father?" Claude in- 

" She said never a word about him either ; never once 
mentioned his name; but she kept talking to somebody 
called Bertie, and begging him to come back to her 
soon, and to be very careful of his health while he was 
away. If she said it once she said it fifty times, 
* Bertie, dear, be sure you take your top-coat ; it 
is getting so dreadfully cold.' I haven't an idea who 
she meant by Bertie, but it was someone whose health 
gave her great anxiety." 

Dagmar smiled through her tears. *^How funny 
to talk about a top-coat when one is dying ! I thought 
people always talked about angels and golden harps 
and things of that kind then." 

But Mr. Duncan did not smile; the pathos of the 
top-coat had touched his heart as no conversation about 
angels or golden harps could have done. True pathos 

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is like true humour, in that it is rarely, if ever, visible 
to the untrained eye of youth. Eyes have to be washed 
by a good many tears before they are able to discover 
the humour and the pathos underlying the common 
things of everyday life. 

** She lingered on until sunset,'* continued Octavius, 
^ and then she, too, went out into the Unknown and left 
me absolutely alone. And after that I remember no 
more. I must have become unconscious and delirious 
as she and the others had done ; and while I was in that 
condition a ship, bound for Australia, sighted the boat 
and saved my life. Thus it happened that I was the 
only survivor of those on board the ill-fated Euro- 

"But why did you not communicate with me at 
once?'* was Mr. Duncan's most pertinent question. 
" All this happened nearly twelve months ago." 

** For the very good reason that when at last I re- 
covered consciousness I did not recover my memory, 
and for many months I had no idea who I was or where 
I had come from. Some very kind people on board 
took pity on me and my forlorn condition, and insisted 
upon my accompanying them to their own home when 
we landed at Melbourne. And with them I lived until 
suddenly my memory came back to me, and I remem- 
bered who I was and all that had happened to me. 
And then I at once cabled you, and came home by the 
next mail." And, having finished his story, Octavius 
fell back in his seat exhausted. 

"There, there, that will do for the present," said 
his uncle ; " you have had enough fatigue and excite- 

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ment for one day, my boy, and you must now go to 
your room and rest. And as for you, my dear young 
f riends,*' he added, turning to the others, ** I will ride 
over to DInglewood to-morrow morning and discuss 
matters more fully with you. For you must under* 
stand that this story of my nephew's will probably en- 
tirely alter the present state of affairs; since now it 
seems proved beyond a doubt that Mrs. Forrester did 
indeed survive her husband." 

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The return of Octavius did indeed alter the aspect of 
affairs. It entirely upset the decision of the Probate 
Court, which had been based only upon probabiUties ; 
and now the case had to be laid before a jury, whose 
business it was to test and to try and true deliverance 
make between the rival claims of Claude Forrester and 
Dagmar Silverthome, and to decide whether the story of 
Octavius Rainbrow was to be considered as trustworthy 
evidence or no. If his tale were true, and Mrs. Forrester 
had indeed survived her husband by a couple of days, 
there was no doubt that her sole legatee predeceased 
her, and that therefore she practically died intestate, 
in which case her entire fortune devolved upon Dag- 
mar as her next of kin. Claude had no possible claim 
upon a fortune which had never belonged to his father ; 
that was absolutely clear, since it was only as his 
father's son and heir that he now held possession of the 
late Mrs. Forrester's fortime. If that property had 
never been Mr. Forrester's, it could certainly never be 
Claude's. This was a fact established beyond all dis- 
pute. Therefore all that remained was to discover, if 
possible, whether the evidence of a man who had sus- 
tained a terrible shock, and had in consequence com- 
pletely lost his memory for the space of nearly a year, 


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was sufficiently trustworthy to affect the disposal of 
close on a million of money. For by this time Miss 
Fallowfield's fortune almost amounted to that sum, in 
addition to Dagmar's hundred thousand pounds, since 
Claude Forrester had not yet paid the death duties, and 
now it seemed more than doubtful if he ever would be 
called upon to pay them. 

Naturally the building operations in Dinglewood 
Park were stopped at once. If Claude had no money, 
Claude could erect no monastery; that was an obvious 
conclusion, and it seemed as if the yoimg man's day- 
dreams were doomed to be unfulfilled after all. 

It was a hard time for Claude, harder than Dag- 
mar, with all her love and sympathy for him, could 
imagine. As long as the course of a woman's true 
love and domestic happiness runs smooth, little else 
has power to upset her. As well as the defects of our 
qualities, we all have also the advantages of our de- 
fects ; and the advantage of a somewhat limited horizon 
is that it naturaUy includes fewer mountainous mole- 
hills than a wide one; while the narrower the way we 
travel, the smaller the number of lions that can fre- 
quent it. Therefore women as a whole have much to be 
thankful for, in that, as a rule, they do not see much 
farther than their own garden-wall. If they saw 
farther they would probably fare worse, and a garden- 
wall is by no means a depressing prospect — €Uid es- 
pecially when there are olive branches growing up it. 
Yet woman refuses to be content with her Eden, and 
clamours for the apple of Parliamentary franchise, and 
for the knowledge of political good and evil ! 

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But the garden-wall is not a seemly horizon-line for 
the masculine eye, and ought never to be regarded as 
such. For weal or for woe, man is called to the duties 
and cares and responsibilities of the larger world which 
lies beyond his own domain. In his ear the call of the 
road is sounding, telling him to go forth to seek ad- 
ventures along the broad highway of progress and in 
the busy haunts of men, or else he hears a voice from the 
far-off mountains, bidding him climb alone to the sum- 
mit of some solitary peak, and there to stand and hide 
his face in his mantle while the Glory of the Lord 
passes by. 

The foolish woman is for ever fighting against this 
great law of Nature, and striving either to keep her 
husband beside her within the precincts of her garden- 
wall, or else to follow him in his joumeyings across 
that wider land which is — ^nor ever can be — ^no home 
of hers. But the wise woman accepts facts as they 
are, and is content patiently to cultivate her own gar- 
den plot until it rejoices and blossoms as the rose, and 
to bid her husband godspeed when he goes forth on 
his way to do his duty in that sphere of life to which 
it has pleased God to call him. 

But it is difficult for even the wisest of women fully 
to understand that no amount of romantic joy and 
domestic peace can abundantly satisfy a man's soul as 
it can abundantly satisfy hers ; and that he must still 
take his place in that outer world which belongs to 
him, or else he will break his wings against that gar- 
den gate, which to her is a refuge and a shelter, but 
to him an iron grating of prison-bars. And although 

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Dagmar Silverthome was both clever and sympathetic, 
.she was not yet old enough to be wise; therefore she 
failed to understand that the love of no woman — be she 
never so amiable and charming — can fully compensate 
s, man for the overthrow of his life's ambition. She 
had never known how much the idea of the monastery 
meant to Claude, so she did not know how bitterly 
he felt the frustration of that idea. 

To her it seemed that he resented the fact that — 
through no fault of her own — she would probably sup- 
plant him in the place which had been allotted to him, 
^nd take from him the fortune which had once been 
-considered his, and she — ^justly or unjustly — ^resented 
his resentment. In her eyes his attitude of mind ap- 
peared somewhat selfish and ungenerous; she had not 
visited it upon him when he was pronounced the right- 
ful heir to her aunt's fortune, so why should he visit 
it upon her when the position was reversed? Her argu- 
ment seemed reasonable enough and her grievance a 
real one, but had she seen deeper she would have con- 
victed herself of injustice. For it was no mere selfish 
disappointment that was at the root of Claude's agony. 
Had it been simply his own personal interests that he 
had been called upon to sacrifice, he would have done 
so imflinchingly and without a regret; but it was the 
dream and ambition of his life — ^his conception of the 
duty which he owed, and was called upon to fulfil, 
towards God and man — ^the embodiment of his highest 
ideals of service. No man worthy of the name could 
lightly give up all this, and to a man of Claude For- 
rester's type it was an especially painful sacrifice. 

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For many weeks things were as much at a standstill 
as they had been before the Probate Court gave its 
decision six months previously. Once more nobody 
knew whether Miss Fallowfield's fortune belonged by 
right to Claude Forrester or to Dagmar Silverthome. 
This time the case had to be tried by a jury, as it was 
now a question of the weighing of evidence rather than 
of the interpretation of abstract law. And by a jury 
it was duly tried, with the result that — after much 
questioning and cross-questioning of Octavius Rain- 
brow — ^this jury decided that the young man's evidence 
was trustworthy and his story true. No amount of 
brow-beating and cross-examination shook Rainbrow 
in his main statement of facts; while the medical evi- 
dence all went to prove that the loss of his memory had 
been but temporary, and that now it was as much to 
be depended upon as it ever had been. Moreover the 
jury, unlike the law, was amenable to the arguments 
of common sense; and — other things being equal — ^it 
appeared far more compatible with abstract justice 
and equity that Mrs. Forrester's fortune should descend 
to her next of kin than to a son of her husband by his 
first marriage. 

So it came about that the decision of the Probate 
Court was reversed by the Court of Appeal, owing to 
the introduction of fresh evidence ; and Dagmar Silver- 
thome became, after all, the possessor of Miss Fallow- 
field's fortune. 

But if abstract justice and the opinion of the neigh- 
bourhood were equally satisfied with the decision of the 
Court of Appeal, this was by no means the case with 

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Claude Forrester. To him the decision was a catas^ 
trophe of appalling magnitude — the downfall of his 
ambition and the destruction of his dearest hope. But 
it was something more than that, though that of itself 
was fairly hard to bear* It was the refusal of Heaven 
to receive the service which he offered — ^the pronounce- 
ment of the Almighty that he himself and the work of 
his hands were alike unworthy of the Divine Accept- 

Not unto Claude was to be allowed the honour of 
building a temple in the centre of Mershire, where 
the servants of the Master should continue a perpetual 
memory of His precious death until His coming again ; 
not unto Claude was to be granted the glory of dedi- 
cating one of the sweetest spots on earth to the service 
of the Most High. It is always hard on a man when 
his gifts to others are flung back in his face, but when 
the offering thus rejected is no gift to man, but a sacri- 
fice imto the Lord, then that man's burden is almost 
greater than he can bear. And thus it was now with 
Claude Forrester. 

He wondered vaguely what he had done to deserve 
this thing. Had he been prepared to make a graven 
image of the monastery and to bow down and worship 
it? Or had he thought more of himself, and his own 
share in it, than of Him to Whose glory it was to be 
built? Surely there must be some flaw in either the 
character of the worshipper or in the quality of the 
thing sacrificed, or else the Almighty would never have 
rejected the offering. 

But, bitter as Claude's cup was, it did not seem to 

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be full until Dagmar herself came to him and asked him 
to undertake the building of her orphanage on the 
same lines as he had designed for the monastery. Then 
indeed his cup of misery overflowed. To take the 
glorious edifice which he had planned as a hostel for 
weary pilgrims and a temple to the living God, and 
turn it into a nursery and a schoolroom for a lot of 
squalling children — ^this was sacrilege indeed! He 
shuddered at the mere thought of it ! Instead of tired 
pilgrims and eager youths sitting together in the dim 
and cool refectory, while one of the number read aloud 
to them, as they ate, some record of the wonderful works 
of Grod, so that their souls might be strengthened and 
refreshed at the same time as their bodies, noisy infants 
would clamour for their food, and consume the same 
to an accompaniment of childish chatter; instead of the 
sacring bell, proclaiming from the tower to the outer 
world that the daily commemoration of the One Obla- 
tion once ofi^ered had been duly enacted, it would merely 
clang noisily across the valley to call the children to 
their lessons or their meals! Was there ever such a 
travesty as this, Claude wondered, of all that was best 
and holiest and most beautiful in life ; forgetting in his 
misery that He, in Whose Presence there is no need 
for any temple, took a little child and set him up in the 
midst of His disciples. 

Nevertheless, Claude could not make up his mind to 
reject Dagmar's proposal altogether. Doubtless it 
would have been more consistent with his character and 
views had he done so ; but no man's actions are invari- 
ably " in drawing," and the purely artistic joy of crea- 

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tion — quite apart from the significance of the thing 
created — had so entered into his blood that to forego 
the embodiment of the ideal he had conceived would 
indeed be to him a cutting ofi^ the right hand ; a pluck- 
ing out of the right eye. The passion of creating was 
upon him, and he must create, even though the work of 
his hands was doomed to ignoble uses. When once the 
cry, " Produce ! produce ! " has soimded in the artist's 
ears, he cannot gainsay the call. He must do the best 
that is in him, be that best intrinsically admirable or 
worthless. For the time being he has nothing to do 
with results ; he can only take his infinitesimal share in 
the Divine accomplishment of bringing forth something 
out of nothingness, and transforming darkness into 

So it came to pass that the artist nature in Claude 
once more proved stronger than his manhood, and — 
rather than renounce his great work altogether — ^he 
consented to carry it on in the form of an orphanage 
at Dagmar's request, while she — ^poor ignorant child! 
— imagined that she was making things easier for 
Claude by appointing him the architect of her Chil- 
dren's Home. So do well-meaning men and women 
hinder each other when they desire to help ! 

'' As for the chapel, I suppose we'd better use it as 
a chapel," she said to him when they were discussing 
the orphanage together, having once more put it into 
the builders' hands, and resumed the work — although 
on a different footing — ^which the arrival of Rainbrow 
and his subsequent revelations had abruptly brought to 
a standstill. 

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"Of course. As what else could you use it?'* de- 
manded Claude somewhat sternly. 

** Oh, I thought it might come in nicely for a gym- 
nasium or something of that kind. You see it isn't 
consecrated yet — or even built, if you come to that — so 
there would be nothing wicked in using it for anything 
that we fancied.** 

Claude fairly shuddered. 

The chapel, as Dagmar said, might not even be 
built as yet; nevertheless, it was already consecrated 
in his own mind as a resting-place for the Ark of the 

But the girl, totally unconscious of his agony, con- 
tinued airily: 

"Of course I think it would be dreadfully wicked 
to use a consecrated building for anything worldly 
or frivolous, but a building that might have been 
consecrated, but hasn't, is quite a diflFerent thing — 
just as marrying a girl who once thought of going 
into a convent is quite a diflFerent thing from eloping 
with a full-grown mm. As a matter of fact, it would 
be diflScult to find a girl who hadn't made up her mind 
at least once in her life to go into a convent. I was 
very keen on it for myself at one time; it soimded so 
calm and restful and Sunday-aftemoony. But Fve out- 
grown all that some time ago, and now — ^as you know — 
Fm dead against nunneries and monasteries and every- 
thing in that style." 

" I do not follow your line of argument," replied 
Claude coldly. " To my mind a sacred thing is not a 
secular thing suddenly adapted to religious uses, but 

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something which is in its very essence sacred and set 
apart. The real religieuse is not an embittered spinster 
who gives herself to God because man finds no attrac- 
tion in her, but a woman in whom the passion of religion 
is so strong that human love seems poor and flat beside 
it. She is set apart, from her earliest infancy, by her 
own nature and character, for something purer and 
higher than the ordinary lot of woman. And in the 
same way I think that a church or a chapel should be 
no common school-room or music-hall adapted to Sab- 
bath observances, but a temple the very building of 
which is an act of worship, and every stone of which 
is separately dedicated to the Lord.'* 

**I don't see that," Dagmar argued. "A woman 
who had been very worldly might suddenly become ex- 
tremely religious, and so make an excellent nun ; and a 
building which had been intended for something quite 
different might have an altar and an organ and a few 
stained windows put in it, and so become a really; 
beautiful church." 

" Things and people don't ever become anything dif- 
ferent from what they really are. They may develop, 
but they don't change." 

"What a dull, horrid theory!" 

'*A true one, nevertheless. Time and circumstances 
may develop two things or two people, which seemed 
almost identical to begin with, into two things or two 
people which appear absolutely dissimilar. But no 
actual alteration has taken place. The germ of what 
they are at the end was there at the beginning, or else 
it couldn't have been developed." 

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" Then don't you believe in great saints becoming 
suddenly great sinners ? '* 

" No, I don't," replied Claude, who dearly loved the 
sound of his own voice, especially when it was sounding 
for the benefit of those persons who did not know as 
much as he did about the matter under discussion. (In 
which, perhaps — considering his sex — ^he was not alto- 
gether peculiar.) ** When people who have seemed to 
be good suddenly turn out to be bad, it doesn't mean 
that they have really changed; it only means that the 
badness has come to the top, so to speak, like cream. 
It must always have been there in its essence, though 
it hadn't congealed into sight. I am tired of hearing 
people s§ty^* ' So-and-so would have been such a good 
man if only he had been better ofi^,' or ' So-and-so would 
have been such a nice woman if only she had married.' 
It is all humbug ! If So-and-so isn't a good man in his 
poverty, he wouldn't have been any better if he'd had 
fifty millions sterling; and if So-and-so is a bad-tem- 
pered old maid, she'd merely have made miserable any 
fool who might have been so misguided as to marry her. 
Therefore let us offer thanks to an all-wise Providence 
that So-and-so has no money to waste, and Miss So- 
and-so no husband to scarify ! " 

*' Well, now, look at me, for instance," said Dagmar, 
who always loved if possible to turn the conversation 
on to herself and her peculiarities. (In which — con- 
sidering her sex — she also was not altogether peculiar.) 
" Don't you think that I am capable of turning out 
into two totally different sorts of woman? " 

" You are capable of developing either side of your 

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character, if that is what you mean; but you are not 
capable of becoming anything which you are not now 

Dagmar shook her pretty head and sighed. ^^ I may 
become a horrid and spiteful old maid — or a perfectly 
delightful married woman — or a very serious and 
religious nim." 

" You can never be anything but perfectly delightful, 
whatever you are; and you couldn't be horrid and 
spiteful if you tried. You will always be charming — 
and a trifle frivolous — and under no possible circum- 
stances could I imagine you as a nun." 

^^ That reminds me/' Dagmar added, still thoughtful, 
" that I never can quite make up my mind what sort of 
an old lady I am going to be ; whether I shall be calm 
and dignified, and read the Bible in a lace cap, or 
whether I shall be fashionable and witty, and tell risque 
stories in a grey toupee. And I think I really ought 
to decide soon, so as to begin reading up for the part. 
What should you advise? " 

Claude smiled in spite of himself. Dagmar might 
build horrible orphanages and totally fail to perceive 
the deeper meanings of things, but that did not prevent 
her eyes from being remarkably pretty. " I can only 
repeat that whatever you are, you will always be 
perfectly charming." 

" But, however charming I may be, you don't ap- 
prove of me," retorted the shrewd Dagmar. 

" No ; that is true. I admire you, but I don't 
approve of you." 

** Nor of my orphanage? " 

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** Certainly not. I don't even admire that. I think 
it a monstrous idea to turn a House of God into a chil- 
dren's nursery — an act of absolute sacrilege." 

"Then why are you willing to aid and abet me in 
doing so? " asked Dagmar, animated by the hope that 
this inconsistency on Claude's part was brought about 
by the power of her own charm. 

But this hope was doomed to' speedy destruction. 
Claude was still young enough to tell the truth, even 
to a woman. " Because I am so wrapt up in the idea of 
the monastery I was about to build — ^it has become so 
much a part of my very nature — ^that I would rather 
see it degraded to the uses of a criche than not build 
it at all. Can't you understand? I love my work for its 
own sake^-not because it is mine — and I would sooner 
resign it into other hands and give it up to other 
uses than utterly destroy the creation of my brain." 

"I see; like Solomon and the baby, whose mother 
would rather give up being its mother than have the 
poor little thing cut up into pieces. I can quite imder- 
stand that principle with regard to babies, but I don't 
know that I should have applied it to monasteries 

'* But don't you know that a man's work is to him 
what a woman's children are to her — the end and aim 
of his existence, for the fulfilment of which he was 
created? Why, your very Bible tells you that." 

"Oh! if you begin quoting the Bible, you'll soon 
see that an orphanage is a much better and more 
religious idea altogether than a monastery," replied 
Dagmar, who, womanlike, could never allow a sleeping 

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dog even a short siesta undisturbed. " The Bible is 
always very keen on the beauty of children and the 
importance of being kind to them, and the wickedness 
of doing anything to annoy them. But I never found 
a word in it, from Genesis to Revelation, iir favour of 
monasteries and convents and monks and nuns." 

Claude shivered slightly, but did not speak. Like 
all people who are not endowed with a spirit of rever- 
ence, Dagmar had a terrible knack of utterly uncon- 
sciously overturning altars and dancing upon graves. 
** But m tell you what,'* she added generously ; " you 
shall make the orphanage as much like a monastery to 
look at as you possibly can; and the chapel shall be a 
real chapel, where the children can have prayers every 
day and Sunday-school upon Sundays. Surely that 
will satisfy you ! " Like all people who are innocent of 
the spirit of reverence, Dagmar was also extremely 
good-natured and easy to get on with. The reverent 
souls are certainly those most suited to Sabbath-day 
needs; it is to them that the inner sanctuaries of life 
are opened and its secret vespers sung, and it is they 
who are now and again permitted to gaze between the 
folds of the blue and purple veil at the two-winged 
cherubim overlaid with gold. But they are not so well 
suited to " the level of every day's most quiet need " 
as are their less gifted brothers and sisters; they are 
always getting their toes trodden upon in the hustle 
and bustle of this workaday world; and somehow they 
seem to have more toes than ordinary folk, or at any 
rate they are more prone to leave them lying about to 
trip up the careless and unwaiy. 

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Yes, for high days and holy days give us as our 
fellow-worshippers those pure and reverent spirits to 
whom every hearth-stone is an altar and every common 
shrub " a bush aflame with God," but for the rest of 
the week give us as our comrades those less rare and 
radiant souls who take life as they find it, and expect 
no impossibilities of either persons or circumstances; 
who see the humorous rather than the deeper side of 
things, and who love their fellow-creatures for being 
human instead of blaming them for not being divine! 
And, when all is said and done, there are six week days 
to one Sunday in each of the fifty-two weeks of the 

"I can't help wishing," remarked Claude, after a 
short pause in which he and his companion had stood 
contemplating . the barely-begun building in silence, 
" that there had been an old abbey on this spot which I 
could have adapted, rather than be obliged to erect a 
place brand-new from the foundations. It would have 
been so much greater a thing actually to work with 
those grand master-craftsmen of old, and to complete 
— or, at any rate, restore — what they had begun, 
than feebly to try and imitate their pattern and their 

" Oh, I don't agree with you. I think it is always 
a far better plan to build new houses altogether than 
to begin tinkering the old places, and trying to turn 
them into new ones." 

" There are no associations about new buildings," 
argued Claude. 

" But there are far more satisfactory drains and bells 

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and gas and water, and things like that affect your 
comfort much more than associations do." 

" Fm not sure about that." The historic instinct 
was strong in Claude. ** To me there is something very 
compelling about a place full of historic associations. 
It seems almost as if the events of the past had per- 
meated the very atmosphere, and made it different from 
the ordinary, brand-new, jerry-built towns and suburbs 
of to-day." 

" Still I think that what you call the brand-new, 
jerry-built suburbs of to-day are much the healthiest," 
persisted the ever-practical Miss Silverthome. 

"There is a health of the mind as well as a health 
of the body, and the mind has far more to feed upon in 
old places than in new ones." 

" The health of the mind doesn't count for knuch if 
the body is laid up with typhoid ; and it doesn't signify 
how much the mind has got to feed upon if the body 
has lost its appetite." 

" But, my dear Dagmar, why confuse historic asso- 
ciations with defective sanitation? The two are not 
necessarily synonymous." 

" They often are ; and even if they are not, they 
generally come to the same thing in the end." 

"Not a bit of it; old houses can be as perfectly 
drained as new ones, if only people will go to the expense 
and trouble of doing it. And, when you come to that, 
the modern jerry-builder is not invariably an ^scula- 
pius. I have known even new houses fail as ideal 

" And even if the drains are all right in old houses. 

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there are sure to be ghosts, and they are quite as bad 
a thing in their way, and more frightening at the time, 
if less dangerous afterwards.'* 

" Why, Dagmar, whatever are you thinking of? I 
should have thought you were far too modem a young 
woman to believe in ghosts ! '* 

^^ So I am. I don't believe in them an atom, but I'm 
awfully frightened of them all the same." 

Claude condescended to laugh. He never liked Dag- 
mar so much as when she proved herself his intellectual 
inferior. Though still young enough to be somewhat 
of a prig, he had a good deal of the regular masculine 
element in him. And the priggishness would soon be 
outgrown. Most men who have anything in them have 
passed by that way in their time. 

" It is very illogical of you to be frightened of ghosts 
if you don't believe in them," he said. 

**Not a bit of it. I don't believe in Mrs. Sprott, 
but I'm dreadfully frightened of her all the same. You 
can easily be frightened at what you don't believe in." 

The protective instinct was roused in Claude at once ; 
there was something very alluring in the combination 
of fear and Dagmar. ** Why are you frightened of a 
tiresome old woman like that? " 

** Because she has a bitter tongue, and women with 
bitter tongues are always to be feared. Even if you 
don't believe a word they say, you can't help thinking 
that there must be some truth in it, and that is why 
they are so dangerous." 

" Some people say you have a fairly sharp tongue 
jourself , Miss Dagmar," suggested Claude slily. 

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" Well, then, J haven't; and I give you full authority 
to contradict that statement whenever you hear it. 
Why, I never accused anyone of not being in * Burke's 
Landed Gentry' in my life, and no power on earth 
would ever induce me to say that I thought another 
woman a day older than thirty-five! And what can be 
more amiable than that? " 

"Nothing, certainly. If only you had the historic 
instinct, and were not quite so appallingly modern, you 
would be an ideal character.'* 

Dagmar sighed. "Yes, I'm modern; I admit that. 
You might almost call me * jerry-built.' My mind is 
like a suburban villa and yours is like a mediaeval cathe- 
dral, and that's why we don't always see eye to 
eye. Villas and cathedrals rarely command the same 

"Well, there I cannot commend you. The passion 
for what is new is a passion which I utterly fail to 
understand; yet it has prevailed from the Athenians 
downwards. New houses, new trees, new religions ; they 
are as popular in London to-day as they were in Athens 
at the time of Saint Paul ! We are too clever nowadays 
to believe the dogmas of a Church which was founded 
upon Apostolic teaching two millenniums ago, but we 
are still simple enough to accept without demur the 
dicta of to-day's newspaper. We cannot stoop to find 
our way to Heaven according to the directions given 
in the Bible, but we humbly submit to be guided to 
London by such instructions as our finite minds can 
wring from the infinite obscurities of Bradshaw ! Yes ; 
Aladdin knew human nature when he went about ofi^er- 

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ing to exchange new lamps for old ones. It is a bargain 
which never ceases to attract the ordinary public." 

*'It rather attracts me," admitted the girl. **Do 
jou know, Claude, I am beginning to be afraid that I 
have got a thoroughly commercial and middle-class 
mind, as opposed to your delightfully romantic and 
mediaeval one; and mine isn't therefore a patch upon 
yours for beauty and general picturesqueness. I love 
a bargain, and batten upon roast beef, and thrill at 
Handel's music, and believe that the whole duty of man 
consists in attending matins every Simday morning at 
eleven o'clock. Could anything be more absolutely duU 
and respectable and middle-class, I should like to 

Claude smiled. "Yes, it is pretty bad, I must 

**It couldn't well be worse, in its own line. But 
middle-class respectability isn't a bad line, taking it all 
round; it wears well and it washes well — or rather it 
doesn't want quite so much washing and whitewashing 
as some other more daring and e£Pective lines require. 
So I think on the whole I shall stick to it, and go on 
giving away my old lamps for the new ones, and 
rejoicing over the bargains." 

" I wouldn't do that if I were you, Dagmar." 

"Of course you wouldn't; that's my whole point. 
If you were me you'd always be exchanging brand-new 
incandescent-gas burners for farthing rushlights, and 
saying how clever you were; and if you could only 
succeed in getting a flint and steel instead of a safety- 
matchbox you'd simply scream with pure joy. But I 

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must be going, or else I shall be late for lunch, and 
unpunctuality is the one unpardonable sin in the Per- 
kins's eye. That is the only way in which the beloved 
Perkins shows that she is an old maid; she seems to 
think that a lunch 'is like a marriage, so that if it isn't 
finished before three o'clock it isn't legal. Old maids 
do get fussy, don't they? I wonder if it is because 
single life produces fussiness, or because men only 
marry the imfussy women? What do you think? 
Which is cause and which is effect? " 

And, without waiting for a reply, Dagmar rushed 
off across the grass in the direction of Dinglewood 
Hall, leaving Claude lost in meditation upon that 
strange tendency in human nature to exchange the old 
and valuable for the new and inferior. 

And what an unaccountable passion it is, when one 
comes to think of it, and yet. how prevalent ! Breathes 
there a man in this modem England of ours with soul 
so dead but that at some time or another he has not 
yielded to the almost universal temptation to cut down 
in a few fatal minutes trees which it would take a 
century to reproduce, and then endeavour to fill their 
place by a few dwarfed and squaUd shrubs ; and — ^which 
is stranger still — ^has coimted the same to himself for 
righteousness? Breathes there a town coimcil, or even 
a county one, with spirit so unurban and impolitic that 
it has never once pulled down old and beautiful and 
well-built houses in order to erect new and vulgar and 
unsubstantial villas in their stead? If such there be, 
let me make a friend of that man, and give me a vote 
for the re-election of that town or county council ! 

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Gardeners are never so happy as when they are 
pruning and disfiguring their rose-trees ; farmers never 
so bKssful as when they are changing their hedges from 
things of beauty to mere boundary lines. The passion 
for hedging and ditching seems to be implanted in every 
masculine breast, and as it is not in itself an evil passion, 
it should be permitted, within limits. But if a man must 
hedge and ditch — ^and apparently he must — ^why cannot 
he hedge and ditch with rows of pea sticks set up for 
the purpose, instead of making the landscape hideous 
with amputated trees and maimed hedgerows? Surely 
he would be just as happy, and the country would be 
ten times more beautiful in consequence. 

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But although Claude Forrester might be heart-broken 
at the dissolution of the monastery of his dreams. Dingle- 
wood rejoiced at the substitution of an orphanage in its 
place, which joy was openly expressed at the usual place 
for such expression — ^the weekly sewing-party at Mrs. 

" Pm very glad to hear that the law has come to its 
senses at last, and has given Miss Fallowiield's fortune 
where Miss Fallowfield's fortune was due," remarked the 
lady of the house, when all the company were collected 
and the needles threaded, and before the early begin- 
nings of the Church had emerged from their resting- 
place in Mrs. Sprott's bag, " namely, to Miss Fallow- 
field's own niece." 

" And that the dear young lady has put away all 
Mr. Claude Forrester's popish notions of building a 
convent for the clergy," added Mrs. Paicey, " and is 
turning it into an orphanage for dear little children, as 
it were, instead." 

*" Still it is thankless work bringing up other folks' 
children," sighed Mrs. Mawer, "seeing that half of 
them are bound to turn out bad." 

^^ Nothing like as bad as monks and nuns, Mrs. 
Mawer," retorted Miss Skinner. 


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Here little Miss Tovey rushed in. "Oh, no, Miss 
Skinner, dear, I think you are quite mistaken. To me 
there is something very beautiful in the idea of convents 
and monasteries, and of people living together bound to 
each other by their desire to serve their Maker. It 
seems somehow like a large family, with God for their 
Father, all living together in their Father's house, and 
doing His bidding. And it is so beautiful to think that 
God is really ready to offer a home to all those plain 
and dull women that no man cares to make a home for. 
It shows that they also have their place. I often think 
that people are mistaken in being so set against nun* 
neries, because nunneries give a reason, somehow, for 
the lives of lots of single women whom there doesn't 
seem to be room for anywhere else." 

*^ There's always room for them that can fill it, 
Amelia Tovey," expostulated Mrs. Peppercorn, ** with- 
out bringing any nunneries into the matter. And as 
for the women with no sense — ^well, I can't see that 
either God or man would be much the better for their 

** I always disapproved of that young Forrester and 
his monastery notions," said Miss Skinner ; ** religious 
superstition is a canker in the heart of any community. 
Don't you agree with me, Mrs. Sprott, that monasteries 
and convents and the like are sinks of iniquity and hot- 
beds of wickedness ? " 

But Mrs. Sprott was suspended, so to speak, after 
the fashion of Mohammed's coffin, between the heaven 
of Claude Forrester's presentation of Theophilus to the 
living of Dinglewood and the earth of the latter's pos- 

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sible marriage with Dagmar Silverthome; and con- 
sequently she was, for the time being, undecided as to 
which side to take. Mrs. Sprott was quite wise enough 
to speak well of the bridge that had carried her over in 
the past, but she was also wise enough to speak still 
better of the bridge that might possibly carry her 
further in the future. So that — although still unde- 
cided — she was inclining towards the abjuration of her 
boasted allegiance to Claude and his monastery, and the 
transference of the same to Dagmar and her orphan- 
iage. But she knew that it is always a mistake to turn 
one's coat too rapidly. Such quick changes in attire 
are apt to reflect unfavourably upon the character of 
the wearer ; so she thought it best to temporise. " Not 
Anglican monasteries and convents, Miss Skinner; you 
are mistaken in applying epithets only suitable to 
Roman institutions to the homes of rest and spiritual 
refreshment patronised by our dear Church of England. 
But there is likewise much to be said in favour of the 
building of a refuge where the fatherless and the orphan 
may find a home. For my part, I do not know which 
is the more deserving charity." 

** I wasn't thinking of the charities at all — ^not one 
way or the other," said Mrs. Peppercorn. " All I said 
was — ^and I say it again — that the proper person to 
come into Miss Fallowfield's fortune was Miss Fallow- 
field's niece." 

" Mrs. Forrester's fortune, you mean," murmured 
Miss Tovey. 

" No, Amelia. I said Miss Fallowfield, and I meant 
Miss Fallowfield. I'm not one to take easily to new 

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names. If a woman wants me to call her by her married 
name she should begin it when she's young and not when 
she's close on fifty. I've always thought of Miss Fal- 
lowfield as Miss Fallowfield, and I always shall. And I 
say, further, that I don't approve of her leaving her 
money to any charity whatsoever. She ought to have 
left it to her niece out and out, to my thinking ; for I'm 
one of the old-fashioned sort that believes in leaving 
one's money to one's own flesh and blood, and letting 
them spend it as they wish." After which throwing 
down of the gauntlet, Mrs. Peppercorn glared at Mrs. 
Sprott in open defiance, waiting for that redoubtable 
foe to pick it up. 

And she did not wait in vain. " Oh, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn, how can you say such terrible things! To my 
mind there is nothing more beautiful than to give back 
one's wealth to the God Who gave it to you." 

** Certainly, Mrs. Sprott ; but there's all the differ- 
ence in the world between giving and leaving, and if 
you don't know the difference, the Almighty does* 
For my part I've no patience with folks who enjoy their 
money all their lives, and then go and leave it to charity 
because they can't take it with them. As a matter of 
fact, they aren't giving away what belongs to them at 
all; they are giving away what belongs by right to 
their lawful heirs; and there's no more real charity 
about them than there is About the man who borrows 
sixpence in church to give e\t the collection and never 
pays it back again. And if you believe that that six- 
pence is reckoned to that man's credit, I can only say 
that I don't." 

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** I do not agree with you at all, Mrs. Peppercorn,*' 
retorted Mrs. Sprott sternly. " I have the greatest 
respect for those who leave all their money to charitable 
objects, and I wish that many more would follow their 

" And much good it'll do them ! Judas left all his 
money to a charitable object, if you remember, but I 
never heard that he was any the better for it ! " And 
Mrs. Peppercorn drew herself up with the air of one 
who feels she has dealt a master stroke. 

"I agree with Mrs. Sprott,'* cried Miss Skinner, 
** because I cannot see why all the relations of rich 
people should benefit by property that they haven't 
earned. If people want money, let them earn it for 
themselves, instead of expecting it from their rich 

" If the Almighty had meant folks to leave their 
money to monasteries and orphanages. He'd have ar- 
ranged for them to be bom in monasteries and orphan- 
ages," persisted Mrs. Peppercorn. " And as He settled 
them all in their own families, it shows that He meant 
them to leave their money to their own families. That's 
as plain as a pikestaff! " 

"Well, I haven't any money to leave, so it doesn't 
matter what I think," little Miss Tovey ventured to 
remark; "but if I had, I think I would rather leave 
it to friends who were kind to me than to relations who 
were not." 

But Mrs. Peppercorn stood firm. " Then that only 
shows what an ill-regulated mind you've got, Amelia 
Tovey; it's just what I should have expected of you. 

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Blood's thicker than water, any day of the week, and 
you ought to be ashamed of yourself for not feel- 
ing it." 

** Blood may be thicker than water, as you say, Mrs. 
Peppercorn ; but it isn't very thick if you happen to be 
poor and your relations rich." It was Miss Skinner 
who spoke, and she spoke with some bitterness. She 
had suffered much and received little at the hands of 
:well-to-do relatives. 

** StiU, as Mrs. Peppercorn remarks," said Mrs. Hig- 
ginson, *^ there is much to be said for the claims of 
kinship. The Fitzwilkinses are ever a mutually at- 
tached race." 

** Well, the Skinners are not," retorted the post-mis- 
tress grimly. ** I can't abear any of my relations, and 
never could." 

*^ Ah ! how different from me ! " cried Mrs. Higgin- 
son. ** I love every member of my house and family, 
even down to first cousins once removed. But then, of 
course, I am well-born." And the daughter of the 
departed chemist glowed with ancestral pride. 

" Are you, indeed ! " retorted Mrs. Peppercorn, ever 
ready to mark what was amiss in her neighbours' walk 
and conversation. " Then yours is the first instance I 
ever came across of a person who was well-bom men- 
tioning the fact — ^the very first!" 

But Mrs. Higginson's pride of race was all the 
stronger for being utterly unfounded, since there are 
few things more powerful and immovable than the 
pride of persons who have nothing to be proud of. So 
she calmly continued, " As dear papa, the doctor, used 

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so often to say, *You are what you are, and no man 
can be anybody but himself.' " 

"And a great pity that he can't!" broke in Mrs. 
Mawer. "It would make married life a sight easier 
if he could." 

"Well," exclaimed the hostess, re-threading her 
needle and returning to her original subject, " say what 
you like, you will never convince me that Miss Fallow- 
field's will was anything but a sin and a shame. She 
ought to have left all her money to her niece, with no 
restrictions or conditions whatever. If she wanted to 
build convents and orphanages, why couldn't she do it 
in her lifetime, and then leave her niece to do what she 
liked with the money when her time came? But what 
could you expect from a single woman? " 

** She wasn't single, Mrs. Peppercorn, dear," pleaded 
the gentle Amelia ; " she was married." 

" Amelia Tovey, don't interrupt ! I always thought 
of Miss Fallowfield as a single woman, and I always 
shall." There was something superb in Mrs. Pepper- 
corn's contempt for facts when they interfered with her 
own preconceived opinions. " But folks nearly always 
come to grief over their wills, if you notice. I've heard 
some proverb to the effect, * Call no man happy till he's 
dead: but I say, call no man good till you've read his 
will ' ; and in that case you won't have a good word to 
say of many, or I'm very much mistaken." 

" Well, I thought it so beautiful of Mrs. Forrester 
to want to leave all her money to charity," argued the 
little dressmaker. 

" Quite right, Miss Tovey," said Mrs. Sprott, with 

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marked approval. ^^Your opinions do you infinite 
credit. I totally disagree with Mrs. Peppercorn in 
her idea that, with regard to testamentary intentions, 
our duty to our neighbour comes before our duty to 

** I didn't say our neighbours — I said our relations," 
retorted Mrs. Peppercorn, " and what I said I stick to. 
I consider that your will should be like your family 
Bible — ^no names written in save members of your own 
family. And if you think that Providence will be taken 
in by your neglecting your own flesh and blood, and 
then trying to square it with Him by leaving your 
money to charity, I can only say I think you're mis- 
taken. I had a great-aunt who behaved like that — ^left 
quite a nice little fortune to some charity or other — 
while some of her own relations were almost starving. 
But I feel sure she has been properly punished by this 
time — as indeed she deserved." 

" I don't believe in future punishment," objected the 
free-thinking Miss Skinner. 

"Don't you? You didn't know my great-aunt!" 
Mrs. Peppercorn, though no theologian, had grasped 
the fact that Somerset House in itself is a standing 
argument in favour of Purgatory. ** Oh, she was a 
most trying old woman all round. Her idea of mak- 
ing herself agreeable was to tell folks she'd left them 
something in her will, and after that, of course, they 
were as pleasant to her as Punch for fear she should 
alter it." 

" It was very untruthful of her," remarked Miss 

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** Very ; but my great-aunt wasn't the sort of woman 
to mind that, bless you! Not she! But she was paid 
out in the end," 

" And how was that done, Mrs. Peppercorn, dear? '* 

" Well, Amelia Tovey, it was in this way. She felt 
a great interest in her own funeral, and was always get- 
ting things ready for it ; and when you went to see her 
just friendly like, if she was in a good temper she'd 
bring her shroud out and show it to you ; and she always 
kept it most carefully aired, as she was a great fidget 
about wearing damp clothes." 

Here Mrs. Mawer interrupted the speaker with a 
prodigious sigh. "It's no good being careful — ^no 
good whatsoever. If your time has come, you'll catch 
your death, even though you stay in bed all day and 
wear clothes that have been aired to a cinder. And the 
stouter and stronger you are the less chance you'll 
have, the world being what it is, and stout figures the 
first to go! And I'll be bound your great-aunt was 
nipped in the bud at the appointed time, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn, and passed away all the sooner for resembling you 
in figure." 

" She didn't resemble me in figure, as it happened, 
Mrs. Mawer ; she was as skinny a piece of goods as you 
ever saw, and there wasn't much nipping in the bud as 
far as she was concerned, considering she lived to be 
ninety-two. But in her late years she set her heart on 
having the most beautiful grave in Mershire; and she 
bought for herself the choicest spot in Merchester ceme- 
tery accordingly. And then, would you believe it? 
The Mayor of Merchester lost his wife, and set up a 

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most beautiful monument to her in the next plot to my 
great-aunt's; and aunt was that put out about it as 
never was, and wrote a long letter to him on the sub- 
ject, saying as how his monument had completely 
spoiled her view. And so it had ; there was no doubt on 
that question. The mayor plainly refused to trans- 
plant his wife at any cost, in spite of all that aunt 
said. But it was the death of her. She never got 
over it, but died the following autumn, no longer hav- 
ing her pride and interest in her grave to keep her 

A thrill of pity pulsated through the company. This 
was a sorrow they could understand. 

" I was sorry for her myself at the time,'' admitted 
the great-niece of the injured one, "until I read her 
will; and then I wished as the whole town council had 
planted their wives round her in rows, like celery." 

" I think it is time to begin the reading aloud," said 
Mrs. Sprott, drawing the biography of the Prayer 
Sook out of her reticule. " The vicar does not ap- 
prove of our wasting the precious time of the sewing- 
parties upon idle gossip." 

Mrs. Peppercorn's eyes flashed. It always riled her 
when Mrs. Sprott referred to her offspring as " the 

"Well, I don't see what concern it is of his, and 
it's no use pretending that I do. For my part I 
don't approve of parsons interfering with the daily 
lives of their parishioners; it is too popish for my 

" Surely, Mrs. Peppercorn, you must admit that it 

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is the duty of a pastor to guide and admonish his 
flock? '' 

"Well, Mrs. Sprott, if you are a Roman Catholic, 
wanting to have the priest popping in and out of your 
house at all hours of the day and poking his finger into 
every pie, you are, and that's the end of it. You've 
a right to choose your own religion and to abide by it. 
But I'm a good sound Protestant, and a good sound 
Protestant I mean to remain." 

This was — as it was meant to be — ^more than the 
Anglican soul of Mrs. Sprott could bear. " You have 
no right to accuse me of being a Roman Catholic, Mrs» 
Peppercorn ; no right at all." 

" Then you shouldn't behave like one. But perhaps 
you are more of a Jew, which is a very interfering sort 
of religion also. I remember once going with Pepper- 
corn to see some Jewish friends of his, and it was the 
Feast of Tabernacles, and they were having their dinner 
in the garden. And I said to Peppercorn, * Pepper- 
corn,' says I, ^ how thankful we ought to be that we 
belong to a religion that doesn't interfere with our 
daily life!' Peppercorn burst out laughing at that^ 
though what there was to laugh at I didn't see then, 
and never shall. But there's nothing stranger than the 
queer things that men and children laugh at; thiQgs 
that sensible folks can see no joke in at all, and which 
aren't funny, and were never meant to be." 

Here, however, Mrs. Sprott thought fit to introduce 
the closure by opening her book and beginning to 

But though Dinglewood might rejoice at the sub- 

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stitution of the orphanage for the monastery, the 
change did not bring the delight to Dagmar that she 
expected. Womanlike, she not only wanted to have her 
own way, she also wanted the man she loved to approve 
it as the best way possible. And this was, of course, 
out of the question. Claude could never love the 
orphanage for Dagmar's sake : he would more probably 
dislike Dagmar for the sake of the orphanage. Men 
have been known not Infrequently to sacrifice their 
principles on the altar of love, but rarely, if ever, their 
prejudices. As a rule they care more about things 
than women do, while women care more about people. 
Therefore the orphanage was not, and never could be, 
as much to Dagmar as the monastery had been to 
Claude ; and she was not absorbed in the building as he 
had been. Moreover, the fact that he was not in har- 
mony with her hurt her sorely. She did not at all 
realise what she had taken from him when she stopped 
the erection of the monastery, and so she could not 
understand how deeply he felt and resented her 

But although she did not see how matters stood, 
Octavius Rainbrow saw, and, seeing, understood. 

A great change had come over the character of 
Octavius since the shipwreck. It is always a stupendous 
moment in any man's life when he first realises that he 
falls short of absolute perfection, and this moment had 
come to Rainbrow when he sprang into the boat and 
knew himself for a coward. He still loved Dagmar — 
loved her more than he had ever done before — ^but he 
did not again ask her to marry him, as he felt himself 

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unworthy of her, and he also saw that she was in love 
with Claude Forrester. 

He saw even further than this ; for underneath his 
many fopperies and affectations Octavius possessed a 
spark of the true dramatic instinct which has the power 
of putting itself into another's place — an instinct in 
which Claude was signally lacking. It is a great gift, 
this capacity of looking at happiness and at other 
things through another man's eyes — a gift which turns 
by its alchemy into true sympathy the ordinary emo- 
tions of pity and admiration. It is also a gift without 
which but little success can be attained in the field of 
literature, for it will not be of much use to the literary 
aspirant to study human nature as a doctor studies a 
disease. He must go deeper than that. He must not 
only diagnose the pain — he must experience its sensa- 
tions; he must not only prescribe the relief — ^he must 
rejoice in the thrill of it. 

Rainbrow bid fair to attain success in his own pro- 
fession of letters through his exercise of this dramatic 
quality ; and it also enabled him to understand to some 
extent Claude's attitude of mind towards Dagmar Sil- 

Claude was not in love with the girl, though he had 
been very near it; but she was now associated in his 
mind with disappointment and misery, and he shrank 
from her accordingly. Have we not all felt stirrings 
of most unjust yet very real dislike towards people 
in whose society we underwent the tortures of tooth- 
ache? It was not their fault that our tooth ached ; they 
were not even conscious of it ; yet in our own minds they 

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are associated with our anguish, and for years after- 
wards they seem to us to be redolent of misery. And 
it is the same with bitterer pains than physical ones. 
We are not, as a rule, very fond of persons with whom 
we were only brought into contact in seasons of sorrow 
and trouble. We have nothing actually against them, 
but we shrink from their society because it brings back 
to us the unhappy past ; that is to say, of course, unless 
there is something in their own personality, or in our 
former relations with them, which is stronger than our 
mental associations between them and our trouble. And 
so Claude shrank from Dagmar, not because she had 
ousted him by coming into her aunt's fortune — ^his feel- 
ing was more subtle and less ignoble than that — ^he 
rather avoided her unconsciously because she reminded 
him of his bitter disappointment, and so was part and 
parcel of it in his own mind. 

This Octavius saw, and he also saw that Dagmar was 
incapable of seeing it unless it was pointed out to her 
very plainly indeed. She naturally imagined that 
Claude's coolness towards her arose from the fact that 
she had supplanted him as the inheritor of Mrs. For- 
rester's fortune, and she resented it accordingly. 

So Rainbrow took it upon himself — an act of un- 
selfishness which would have been impossible to him prior 
to the shipwreck — to set matters straight if he could 
between the two rivals, and he accordingly spoke to 
Dagmar upon the subject. 

**I consider that Forrester is looking very ill,'* He 
began diplomatically; "very ill indeed. He has the 
appearance of a man whose faith is blighted and whose 

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hopes are blasted. Surely you must have noticed the 
cheuige in him, as you and he see a great deal of each 
other, do you not? ^' 

Dagmar fell into the trap at once. ** No ; we don't 
see a great deal of each other, Mr. Rainbrow ; you are 
quite out of it there. I never see anything at all of 
Claude now, and when I do, he hardly will speak to 
me, and never makes himself at all nice." 

" That is strange, as you two used to be such great 
friends once." 

Dagmar sighed. " I know we used. Why, we used 
to quarrel with each other at least three times every 
day, and generally oftener; and now Claude wouldn't 
quarrel with me if the peace of Europe depended on it. 
He is always so dreadfully polite and friendly with me 
now, and that in itself proves that he regards me as an 

" Yes ; that is a bad sign, I admit. When faithful 
friends cease to fall out there is no renewing of love. 
Strife is the stimulant of affection." 

" It isn't as if he had never quarrelled with me," 
Dagmar continued mournfully ; " in that case I should 
have no right to complain when he left off ; but we used 
to have such lovely heated arguments over things that 
didn't matter in the least, and get so frightfully bitter 
and excited about them. Now he doesn't care an atom 
what I think about anything. Why, when I differed 
from him the other day, he even went so far as to admit 
that there are two sides to every question ; and when a 
man admits that to a woman who differs from him, it 
shows how utterly indifferent to her he is." 

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It was not, perhaps, exactly dignified of Dagmar to 
confide her woes to Octavius in this fashion, but dignity 
was not, or ever would be, one of Miss Silverthome's 
distinguishing characteristics. Hers was a nature that 
could not exist without a confidante of some kind; she 
must talk, and talk aboqt herself; and somebody — it 
did not much matter who — must listen. Miss Perkins, 
though a most admirable woman in many ways, was not 
the stuffs whereof young girls' confidantes are made ; she 
was too practical, too sensible, too prone to see things 
as they really are, and in their true proportion. The 
mind of youth is like a stained-glass window, in that it 
is utterly independent of the rules of perspective; and 
persons with a strong sense of perspective do not recom- 
mend themselves to the young. Such persons generally 
give the advice that is wise and reasonable, and that is 
never the advice that is acceptable to the receiver. 

Octavius nodded his head thoughtfully. " Yes ; there 
is a great deal in what you say. The first symptom of 
a man's interest in a woman is an uncontrollable desire 
to mould her opinions upon his. It would be real agony 
to me if any woman, for whom I felt a tendressCy openly 
declared that she preferred Mendelssohn to Wagner; it 
would give me shakes and shudderings all down my 

"Well, I don't believe that anything that I could 
say now would ever touch Claude Forrester's spine, 
much less make it shake and shudder. He was quite 
polite to me the other day when I said I considered 
Luther a greater man that Thomas a Becket; I only 
said it just to try him, as neither Luther nor Thomas 

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k Becket was ever anything to me ; and yet a year ago 
he nearly snapped my head off because I expressed an 
opinion that the Sarum Use was more becoming than 
the Roman one, although I really didn't know the dif- 
ference between the two.'* 

Octavius understood and sympathised. ** But that 
is bad, very bad ; because I am sure that in the depths 
of his heart Forrester would cherish the greatest antip- 
athy towards Luther." 

*^ Of course he would ; that is what made it so upset- 
ting. Luther is just the sort of man that Claude can't 
stand at any price, and I know he'd be furious if any- 
body he really liked stuck up for Luther. But he 
doesn't care what I do. I don't believe he'd turn a hair 
if I even went so far as to make an idol of Calvin. He 
is as indifferent to me as that! " 

^^ I wonder what has caused this fundamental change 
in Forrester's attitude towards an erstwhile friend." 

"I can tell you; it is just envy and jealousy. He 
has been nasty to me ever since you found out that Mr. 
Forrester was drowned before Aunt Charlotte, and that 
therefore Aunt Charlotte's money ought to come to me* 
And I think it is really horrid of him to put money be-^ 
fore everything in that way. I wasn't a bit nasty to 
him when he had all Aunt Charlotte's fortune, so I 
don't see why he should be to me! But I've often 
noticed that people are never so nice to other people 
as other people are to them. It's the way of the world, 
I suppose." 

And then Octavius did the thing which was accounted 
one of the chief est glories of the Psalmist's ideal gentle- 

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man — ^he did his duty to his neighbour and disappointed 
him not, though it was to his own hindrance. " Then 
I think you do Forrester an injustice," he said, "a 
great and grave injustice. He cares no more for the 
money itself than you do; and he is far too just and 
high-minded a man to grudge his friends what is theirs 
by right. But what he resents is that you have come 
between him and what he considered his divinely ap- 
pointed mission. He is not angry with you for having 
received an earthly fortune; he is angry with you for 
having rejected, as he thinks, a heavenly crown." 

Dagmar gave a little gasp. 

"Oh! it never occurred to me in that light. But 
surely an orphanage is as much worth a heavenly crown 
as a monastery is." 

" Forrester does not think so ; and as a man believes 
things to be, so to that man they are." 

^^ And of course the orphanage-crown would be mine 
and not his," added Dagmar, with a touch of Mercian 

" I do not believe that consideration affects him at 
all. There is nothing small about Claude Forrester, 
but there is something extremely narrow. As long as 
service is rendered to the God Whom he worships, he 
does not mind who offers it— either himself or another 
— ^but he minds very much indeed how it is offered, and 
whether it is done in a way which he himself has decreed 
is acceptable." 

Dagmar did not speak, but she felt more drawn to 
Octavius than she had ever been before. It is always 
a comfort to generous natures, when they are wroth 

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with one they love, to discover that it is they themselves 
who are at fault and not the loved one — a discovery 
that is fraught with extreme discomfort in the case of 
natures which are not generous. 

"Forrester has no personal animosity towards you, 
Miss Silverthome,*' Rainbrow continued ; " I am quite 
sure of that. But he imagines that in this matter you 
are frustrating the designs and hindering the work of 
the Almighty, and so are God's enemy rather than 
his. Mind, I am not saying that he is right; I con- 
sider that he is utterly wrong, and, from my own point 
of view, an orphanage is a far more truly charitable in- 
stitution than is a monastery. But this is what For- 
rester thinks, and we must measure a man's conduct by 
a man's standard. His attitude towards you is that of 
the priest towards the heretic — of the Christian martyr 
towards the pagan persecutor." 

" Well, I never! To think of me as a pagan perse- 
cutor, and I go to church twice every Sunday and 
never hurt a fly in my life ! " 

" I do not say that Forrester is not a fool. Miss Sil- 
verthome ; I only say that he is a fanatic." 

But at this Dagmar fired up. " Oh ! he isn't at all 
a fool, Mr. Rainbrow; he is a most awfully clever 

" A man may be extremely clever and yet an ar- 
rant fool. The clever fools are the most dangerous 

** But Claude isn't anything of the kind," retorted 
Dagmar ambiguously, " and I won't let anybody say 
that he is. But I'm glad you think that what I am 

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blaming in him isn't badness, after all, but an excess 
pf goodness ; it makes all the difference, you see." 

" I suppose it does, though the results are pretty 
much the same. Torquemada was a finer character 
than Palmer the poisoner, but I doubt if this superi- 
ority made much difference to their respective victims/' 

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Rainb&ow's remarks made a great impression upon 
Dagmar. Womanlike, she believed that a man can un- 
derstand another man better than any woman could 
understand him — a delusion which is shared equally by 
both sexes with regard to the other, and which leads to 
many mistakes and misunderstandings. It is when a 
man accepts his mother's or sister's translation of his 
wife in place of his own reading of her, and when a 
wife is guided by her father's or brother's rendering of 
the difficult passages in her husband's character rather 
than by her own instincts in the matter, that domestic 
troubles begin. Yet it is a natural and pardonable 
mistake, and one that has its root in the virtue of 
humility; and now and then it is not a mistake at allj 
but a sensible way of getting at the truth. This hap- 
pened to be one of these exceptional^ cases. 

Unlike Claude, Dagmar was not at all bigoted in her 
opinions; she possessed that quality — ^generally admir- 
able, but occasionally dangerous — known as " an open 
mind." In this she showed traces of her Mercian 
origin, for the inhabitants of the Midlands, the dwellers 
by the great highways, are as a rule far more ready to 
receive new impressions, and to give proper weight to 
the same, than are those of their fellows whose lot is 
cast on the tops of the mountains or by the edges of 


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the sea. The shores and the mountains must ever have 
a touch of finality about them; they are the ends of 
the earth as far as their particular locality is concerned, 
and have " Finis " inscribed upon them by Nature's pen ; 
and this touch of finality shows itself in the character 
of their inhabitants. It is to the sea-shore and to the 
mountain that we must turn in emergencies for heroes 
and martyrs and great deliverers ; for to be any one of 
these things a man must believe that the last word has 
been said and the final decree uttered, must know him- 
self to be absolutely right with regard to his own par- 
ticular branch of the truth. We must lift our eyes to 
the hills if we need immediate help in present trouble, 
we must stretch our hands out seawards if we crave for 
an heroic deliverer from pressing doubt and pain; but 
if, instead of these, we want the calm sense and the 
sweet reasonableness of the man of science — ^the open- 
minded wisdom and the practical knowledge of the busi- 
ness man and the man of affairs — ^then we shall do well 
to seek for these among the low-lying uplands and the 
shallow valleys of the Midlands, across the plains of 
which run the wide white roads that carry the commerce 
of the world. For there is no air of finality about the 
typical Midlander; like Ophelia, he knows what he is, 
but he knows not what he may be, and he has learnt that 
there is no such thing as the last word. Therefore he 
is kindly and reasonable; slow to condemn any man as 
utterly wrong, since he is aware that no man is abso- 
lutely right; and quick to hear the latest evidence on 
any question, and to sift it for himself. In moments 
of stress and emergency he is not perhaps so present a 

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help as is the man of unalterable convictions and im* 
placable certainties, but he is a much safer guide than 
the latter in the uneventful hours which make up by far 
the greater part of our everyday life. 

Now Dagmar was a true daughter of the Midlands 
in this respect. She did not forget to be reasonable, 
and the possibility of changing her mind was never 
entirely expurged from her list of alternatives. There- 
fore she gave Rainbrow's words full and long considera- 
tion, and finally came to the conclusion that she had 
been guilty of injustice in her judgment of Claude. 
She even went so far as to commend him in her own 
mind for his treatment of her, since he believed that 
she had — ^however unwittingly — ^thwarted the work of 
God in the parish of Dinglewood. Which shows that, 
for a woman, Dagmar was wonderfully reasonable. 

But how were matters to be put straight again? 
That was the next question, and it was not an easy 
question to answer. 

Then the commercial instinct — ^which is a very good 
instinct in its way, and which had been handed down to 
Dagmar through her Mercian ancestors — awoke in her 
soul, and bade her consider two things, namely, first 
what she wanted, and secondly what she was prepared 
to pay for it. It is the fashion nowadays to sneer at 
the commercial instinct, and to despise it as something 
common and vulgar, but in reality it is nothing of the 
sort. The essence of vulgarity is the concealment of 
vulgarity. The common man who knows he is common 
loses his commonness by his knowledge of it ; by realis- 
ing that he is common, he ceases to be common at all. 

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The really vulgar people are the people who are for- 
ever pretending that they are not vulgar; the truly ill- 
bred are those who are constantly parading their 
gentility. There is nothing vulgar in itself ; it only be- 
comes vulgar when it pretends to be something else. 
Therefore the commercial instinct is never a conmion 
instinct, except when it sets itself up as not being com- 
mercial at all; then it is very common indeed. Do we 
not all know men and women who positively swell with 
pride as they say, " I am a very poor business man or 
woman; I really know nothing at all about business "? 
This is probably true, but where is the healing virtue in 
their incapacity? The man who built a tower without 
counting the cost very likely prided himself, as they do, 
upon being a poor man of business, but he discovered 
his mistake when he was pointed out by Divine Scorn 
as an almost incredible instance of human folly. 

Now Dagmar had the sense to know that you cannot 
get anything in this world without paying for it; the 
account may stand over, it is true, but the bill will al- 
ways be sent in in the end ; so she communed with her 
own soul as to how much she wanted Claude's friend- 
ship, and how much she was prepared to give for so 
desirable a boon. Which did she care for most — Claude 
or the orphanage? That was the question put into a 
nutshell, for the orphanage seemed to be the price 
quoted for tte friendship of Claude. And quick as 
thought the answer came — Claude, 

But what was the next thing to be done? 

She could not give the fortune back to him. It was 
out of her power to do so, even had she wished it ; and, 

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besides, he was far too proud ever to submit to such a 
thing. She wanted to go to him and say, " Here is the 
money ; go and build as many monasteries as you like, 
as long as you will be friends with me ! '* But that, too, 
would never do; he would not accept money from her, 
even for his cherished scheme. With her usual common- 
sense Dagmar had realised that she could not have both 
the orphanage and Claude's approval, and that she 
must therefore make up her mind which of the two she 
wanted most, and sacrifice the other to that. But 
having decided that the orphanage was the price to pay, 
and that Claude's friendship was worth it, she was 
Hot quite clear as to how the bargain was to be trans- 

She was one of the rare women who know that they 
cannot both eat their cake and have it ; most of her sex 
go through life expecting to achieve this duplex action, 
and are grievously disappointed at their failure; but 
she could not for the moment see how the cake in ques- 
tion was to be properly preserved; and it is the worst 
disappointment of all to forego the eating of the cake, 
and then to find that it would not keep after all, but 
has gone mouldy, and has to be thrown away. 

For several days Dagmar pondered over this per- 
plexity. It was now autumn again, and her musings 
were tinged with the sadness of the season ; for the lions 
in one's path always loom larger in the haze of autumn 
than they appear in the clear sunshine of spring. But 
at last the light came. 

She could not give her aunt's fortune back to Claude ; 
she could not even bid him build his monastery at her 

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expense ; but she could build the monastery herself, and 
pretend that she was indulging her own inclinations in 
so doing. 

Here Dagmar touched the highwater-mark of femi- 
nine unselfishness. It is comparatively easy and ex- 
tremely frequent for a woman to sacrifice her own 
inclinations to those of the man she loves ; but unselfish- 
ness almost rises to the height of genius when she not 
only does his way, but pretends that it is her own. Un- 
selfishness dressed in the robe of martyrdom is an admir- 
able but by no means an unusual sight, but unselfishness 
disguised in the trappings of selfishness, and so dis- 
guised of set purpose, is a rare and beautiful vision 
before which even the angels veil their faces in reverence 
and awe. Then the sacrifice is consummated without 
the vestments of the martyr or the ritual of self-denial, 
and is accompanied by no incense of approval and no 
music of applause. Even the one on whose behalf it is 
offered is unconscious and therefore ungrateful, and 
only the God Who seeth in secret knows exactly the 
price of the hidden box of precious spikenard so invis- 
ibly poured forth. 

It did not take Dagmar long to make up her mind 
when once her mind devoted itself to its own up-making ; 
nor — ^having once made it up — ^to act upon the result. 
So it was not many days after Rainbrow's revelation 
that she set out to speak to Claude and convey to him 
her decision. 

As usual she found him hovering over the slowly- 
rising orphanage, and superintending the workmen as 
was his wont. And she noticed with a pang — ^which 

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went straight to that mother-heart of herg which i& 
concealed in the breasts of all good women — ^how sad> 
worn, and broken he looked. There was a strong mater- 
nal element in Dagmar's love for Claude ; perhaps that 
was the reason why her love was so unchangeable by 
anything that he might do or say, for when a womaa 
adores a man for his supposed i)erfections, there is 
always the risk of her discovering his feet of clay and 
loving him the less in consequence. But when there is 
that maternal strain, in her affection which makes her 
love him for what he is and not for what she supposes 
hii*i to be — ^when she sees his faults as his mother sees 
them, and loves him the more rather than the less in 
consequence — ^then nothing can ever estrange her from 
him any more than it could estrange his mother. It is 
rather the fashion among romantic and sentimental 
people to exalt a woman's feeling for her husband on 
the reverent rather than the indulgent side, to place 
the ideal wife in the adoring and worshipful rather than 
the tender and helpful attitude ; but let it be borne in 
mind that the first female name invoked in our marriage 
service as a pattern to ** this woman " in the perform- 
ance and keeping of her new vow and covenant, is not 
the name of the gentle Sarah who meekly obeyed her 
husband, calling him lord, but of that capable Rebekah 
on whose far-seeing shrewdness her husband always 
leaned, and who was strong enough to comfort him 
after his mother's death. The name of Sarah comes 
later: "this woman" must likewise learn to obey and 
to be in subjection; but she must first make herself 
ready to be a support to her husband in his weaker 

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moments, and a helpmeet for him when he finds the 
battle of life too hard to fight alone. The humble and 
adoring wife is at heart a selfish woman who will not 
take her share of the burden, but leaves her husband 
to bear it by himself, making up in slavish adoration 
what she lacks in sense and efficiency. And Man — ^who 
is man, after all, and not a demi-god — ^wants help and 
comfort and practical good sense far more than he 
wants worship and adulation and feeble humility, while 
Woman is called upon to love and cherish rather than 
to worship and adore. She is bound to serve and obey, 
it is true, but service and obedience are practical words, 
and have no connection with the blind and unreasoning 
devotion which the sentimentalist considers is the duty 
of the married woman to her lord. 

As Dagmar approached nearer to him Claude looked 
up and saw her, but his smile of greeting was superficial 
and had no real welcome in it. His heart was very sore 
just then. As the walls rose and the general design of 
the building began to take form, he felt more and more 
that it was a defamation to degrade this fair temple to 
humble and domestic uses ; it was like serving bread and 
cheese upon a patine of pure gold, or drinking small 
beer out of a chalice of agate. 

** Claude, I want to speak to you very particularly," 
Dagmar began, " about something that is most fright- 
fully important." 

" I am entirely at your service." Claude spoke with 
that ominous politeness which Octavius and Dagmar 
had agreed was such a bad sign. ** If you have any 
further instructions to give as to the building of your 

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orphanage, I will do my best to see that they are carried 

" Well, the fact is," replied Dagmar, as they slowly 
strolled up the valley together, " I have come to the 
conclusion that the idea of the orphanage is altogether 
a mistake." 

"A mistake! Your beloved orphanage?" Claude 
spoke as one bewildered. 

" Yes, altogether a mistake. You see, everybody is 
wrong sometimes — even me. And I have been wrong 
about the orphanage, though I'm not often. And I've 
sense to see that the wisest thing to do, when one has 
done a foolish thing, is not to do it. It is silly and 
obstinate to go on doing a thing for the sole reason 
that one has begun to do it, don't you think? " 

Claude still looked puzzled. The mutability of the 
feminine mind was past all bearing with, he decided; 
he had no patience with it. But he still spoke cour- 

" Of course, if one is convinced that one has made a 
mistake, it is much more dignified to own that one has 
done so and to endeavour to retrace one's steps than 
to continue to pursue a foolish course rather than 
admit oneself to be in the wrong." 

" Well, that is just like me. After thinking it well 
over I have come to the conclusion that the orphanage 
idea — though very fetching and attractive — is really 
not practicable. I believe it would pauperise people, 
and it is no good making people poorer than they need 
be by treating them as if they were poorer than they 

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" Certainly not. There is a great danger of pauper- 
ising in all promiscuous charities." 

**And then," Dagmar continued, "it is absurd to 
blind one's eyes to the fact that the building you have 
designed is far too beautiful altogether to be turned 
into a nursery or a school-room. There should be suit- 
ability in all things, and no one can pretend that the 
<;ourts of a temple make a suitable playground for 

" Nevertheless," argued Claude, who always endeav- 
oured — and generally in vain — ^to see both sides of a 
question, "beautiful surroundings are an important 
factor in the education of young children." 

" But not this particular kind of beauty, don't you 
see? Real beauty is too big for children ; they can only 
understand prettiness. It would be no real kindness to 
<;hildren to hang priceless Turners and Botticellis on 
the walls of their nursery, but they simply adore a 
pretty and bright-coloured wall-paper illustrated with 
scenes from nursery-rhymes." 

** But there is no necessity for the orphanage to be 
so very beautiful from the artistic point of view," re- 
plied Claude, still arguing against himself in his frantic 
'efforts after absolute justice. 

** There wasn't in the first instance before the build- 
ing was begun, of course, but there is now. It is always 
ridiculous to discuss things that are half finished as if 
they were things that hadn't yet been ordered. There 
are lots of reasons which would justify a woman in 
refusing to marry a man, but which wouldn't justify 
her at all in running away from him after she was 

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married; just as I have a perfect right not to choose 
a frock in an unbecoming colour, but no right at all to 
throw it away because it is in an unbecoming colour 
after I have paid twenty guineas for it. You can't 
deal with what is as if it was what isn't, and it is a 
waste of time to attempt to do so. You see, we have 
got to deal with the building as it is, and not as it 
would have been if it had never been begun, and there 
is no use denying that it will be the most unorphanagy 
orphanage you ever saw." After which lengthy speech 
Dagmar stopped for sheer want of breath. 

" Then what do you propose to do? I don't quite 
understand," asked Claude. 

" What I propose to do (if you will let me, that is to 
say, and don't consider the idea copyright) is to carry 
out your original design and to continue the monastery 
on the lines you started. I'm sure it is the right thing 
to do, and the best use that could be made of Aunt 
Charlotte's money." 

Claude's face lighted up as it had not lighted up for 
months. "Do you really mean that?" 

"Yes, I do. I see now that you were right and I 
was wrong," replied Dagmar, thereby proving herself 
an adept in the arts by which the sons of men are 

Claude fully agreed with her on this point. What 
man wouldn't? " I think that is so. Not that your 
idea of the orphanage wasn't very nice, because it was ; 
but it was quite ordinary and commonplace, while the 
erection of a sort of clergy-house and theological col- 
lege combined, as I suggested, will be a much rarer form 

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of charity, and one of which the Church is in more 
special need. But wouldn't you rather found an insti- 
tution for women-workers?" he added generously, 
"because you are so fond of women." 

Dagmar shook her head. " No ; I don't think a 
monastery for women would be as really useful as a 
convent for men, because, though the monastery part 
of it would be just as good, the theological college part 
would be no use. And that's really the part that 

Claude looked down on her, his face aglow with joy 
and admiration. " I say, Dagmar, it's really splendid 
of you ! " he cried, " and it seems much more splendid 
somehow done by you than by me. Don't you see that 
in the years to come the fact that a woman raised this 
house of rest for weary souls will make it far more 
restful to them than if one of their fellow-men had done 
it. It will give it just that feminine touch which turns 
a house into a home, that mother-comfort the longing 
for which led the Church into the error of Mariolatry. 
All down the kges men will bless your name, and will 
honour your memory as they honour the memory of the 
mothers who hushed them to rest when they were little 

And as Dagmar looked up into Claude's eyes and 
read the happiness and approval written there, she 
realised that Octavius was right when he said that there 
was no personal ambition — ^not even a spiritual one — 
mixed up with Claude's passionate desire for the fur- 
therance of the work of God; and she also realised — 
though as yet dimly — ^that to certain natures the ideal 

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of womanhood is embodied in the ideal of the mother. 
Such men do not worship woman as the wife, nor cher- 
ish her as the friend and comrade; they need comfort 
rather than companionship, and crave less for passion 
than for peace. Perhaps they are not so virile as the 
other sort, but they are quite as human and as worthy 
to be loved. 

Of such are Claude Forrester and his kind in modem 
days, and their name is legion; of such, in the Middle 
Ages, were those holy men who forswore the love of wife 
and child and the happiness of the home that they 
might devote themselves to the service of the Mother of 
God; and of such, in the morning of the world, was 
that gentle, tender-hearted patriarch who leaned upon 
the strength and foresight of the shrewd and competent 
Rebekah, and loved her, and was comforted after his 
mother's death* 

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" I don't feel comfortable in my mind with regard to 
Amelia Tovey," remarked Mrs. Peppercorn, as she 
stood one October morning in the village post-office, 
having chanced upon Mrs. Mawer there, and being 
always ready — ^not to say eager — for social intercourse 
with her neighbours. " There's something very wrong 
with Amelia." 

" I daresay there is with all of us if we only knew it," 
Mrs. Mawer replied, " but our eyes are blinded till it is 
too late for anything to do us any good any more." 
True to her Mercian origin, she pronounced it " any- 
think." ** And often the stronger and stouter we look 
and the better we feel, the more likely there is to be a 
canker at the root, life being what it is, and sorrow 
and suffering the lot of all." 

" I wasn't referring to Amelia's body, Mrs. Mawer ; 
I was thinking about her mind." 

"Which, by the same token, Mrs. Peppercorn, in- 
sanity is that much on the increase — owing to tele- 
graphs and telephones and motor-cars and the like, and 
no one stopping in the same place for long enough to 
take root and settle down — ^that the lunatic asylums are 
full to overflowing, outdoor relief, with free dispen- 


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saries, Eeing no use when the patients become dangerous. 
And often they're taken violent so sudden that you're 
murdered while you are talking to them, and before 
you've time to call in a doctor or even a policeman, life 
being so uncertain that nobody knows what an hour 
may bring forth." 

" Some folks have further to go to go out of their 
minds than others," remarked Mrs. Peppercorn se- 
verely; " and some have only got just to step over the 

"Which is no protection or safeguard whatsoever," 
retorted Mrs. Mawer, with one of her profoundest 
sighs, "the brightest intellects being the first to give 
way. It is the clear, sensible folk with no nonsense about 
them — such as yourself and Farmer Peppercorn, for 
instance — that go mad soonest through there being 
more strain on their intellects, and sorrow being the end 
of all things and the world a wilderness of care." 

" Well, all I can say is," interjected the postmistress, 
" that if only hard-worked intellects are the ones to 
give way, then Amelia Tovey is clear of the lunatic asy- 
lum for some years to come." 

" It is not that I consider Amelia Tovey is going 
daft or anything of that kind," explained Mrs. Pep- 
percorn ; " the poor thing is as sane as any single 
woman can expect to be who hasn't had some common- 
sense knocked into her by married life ; but she has gone 
in for some new-fangled religion or other, and I'm one 
that can't abide new-fangled religions. New potatoes, 
new flannel, and new-laid eggs for me; but no new reli- 
gions, if you please. The old sort of religion is good 

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enough for me; and if folks act up to it properly it'll 
take them all their time and keep their hands as full as 
they want/' 

" Yet we must march with the times, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn," Miss Skinner objected. 

" Then be careful where you are marching to, Emma 
Skinner. As far as my experience goes, marching with 
the times means marching downhill.'* 

" And we must keep pace with modem thought." 

" Easy enough to keep up the pace when you are go- 
ing downhill, Emma Skinner. You don't want an extra 
engine put on to the train for that." 

•* And religious mania is the worst mania of all," Mrs. 
Mawer continued, as if nobody had spoken since her 
last remark, " and the most difficult to cure and the 
most likely to lead to murder and suicide. But that's 
always the way in the autumn; troubles are bound to 
come then, if they don't come all the year round. The 
moment the days begin to close in I always says to my- 
self, * I wonder what dreadful thing will happen before 
they begin to lengthen again.' And I never can tell 
what it will be, the future being hidden from day to day, 
and trouble falling upon us all alike as the sparks fly 
upward, with nothing certain but the grave." 

" Well, for my part, I don't see if trouble is given 
to us all alike, why riches shouldn't be given to us all 
alike also," remarked Miss Skinner. " I'm one to think 
out things for myself, and judge accordingly." 

" Which accounts for some of the things you do think, 
Emma Skinner," Mrs. Peppercorn interrupted her; 
" for no one else would waste their time in thinking such 


by Google 


nonsense. When folks tell me they form their own opin- 
ions, I just say, * So I should have supposed ' ; the same 
as I say when they tell me they make their own dresses. 
YouVe only to look at them and listen to them for half 
a minute to know they don't owe anything either to Mr. 
Worth or to Mr. Thirty-nine Articles.'* 

" I wonder you don't say a word to Miss Tovey your- 
self, Mrs. Peppercorn," suggested Mrs. Mawer. " It 
may not yet be too late for a word in season, though 
there's no time to be lost, life being that uncertain, and 
Miss Tovey not so young as she was, and as the tree 
falleth there it must lie." 

"Well, I should have done so, Mrs. Mawer; and I 
may yet ; but the fact is that I've been that set against 
interfering with my neighbours through seeing Mrs. 
Sprott do it, that I doubt if I could mention it if I saw 
an earthquake in your back-yard and you not aware of 
it. There's nothing so cures you of a fault as seeing 
somebody with it that you can't abear. I'm sure there's 
nothing I wouldn't do, and no fault I wouldn't cure 
myself of, if I thought that I should be less like Mrs. 
Sprott in consequence. Ever since I heard her inter- 
fere with Mrs. Paicey about giving the baby Framley's 
Food, I've made up my mind never to pass a remark on 
what I see other folks' children eating — ^no, not if I 
caught them filling their poor little stomachs with pea- 
shucks or acorns. Anything is better than interfering 
with what don't concern you ; that savours too much of 
Mrs. Sprott for my taste ; and I wouldn't lend a hand 
to it ; no, not if you was to crown me." 

After delivering which sentiment of laisser faire, Mrs. 

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Peppercorn picked up her parcels and marched out of 
the viUage shop. 

But although these good ladies were so generous 
with their pity for the little dressmaker, the object of 
their compassion was in no need of it. For a wonderful 
thing had happened to Miss Tovey. A great change 
had come over the spirit of her dream — ^a complete revo- 
lution had turned her world upside down. For her there 
was a new heaven and a new earth wherein righteousness 
dwelt, and the former limitations of her existence were 
not remembered, neither did they come into mind. She 
had heard the great trumpet-cry which awakens all 
souls sooner or later, the cry, ^^ Behold, I make all 
things new : '* and for her the former things — the pain 
and the sorrow and the crying — had already passed 

The miracle had been wrought in this wise. 

In August Miss Tovey had taken her annual trip to 
an inexpensive boarding-house at a well-known water- 
ing-place on the Welsh coast. She went there for a 
fortnight every August of her life, to recruit her health 
for the coming winter, and to spend such of her yearly- 
savings as her rapacious brother and his wife had left 
intact. Every visit up to now had been equally 
uneventful, but this year a wonderful thing occurred. 

There happened to be staying in the same house as 
Miss Tovey a Welsh revivalist and his family — ^the 
followers and exponents of a new and very small sect, 
who called themselves the " Friends of the Bridegroom.'* 
There is no need here to enter into details concerning 
the dogmas of this sect ; suffice it to say that in this — 

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as in all new forms of the Christian religion — there was 

a foundation of truth, or else it could not have lasted 
for a day; and there was also a considerable super- 
stratum of error, or else it would have carried the whole 
world before it. But the power of the " Friends of the 
Bridegroom'* did not lie in the soundfiess of their 
creed, which was imperfectly composed and still more 
imperfectly understood; it lay in the intensity and 
impetuosity of their faith. 

Although an educated faith — a faith founded upon 
the truth, instructed in doctrine, and trained in practice 
— ^is of necessity a higher and more powerful thing 
than a uneducated one, inasmuch as the Jews of Berea 
were more noble than those in Thessalonica, because 
they searched the Scriptures daily to see whether those 
things were so, nevertheless even the most groping and 
ignorant faith is a lever of tremendous force. First 
the faith, then the knowledge: men do not believe be- 
cause they know ; men know because they first believed. 
Are we ever perplexed in our minds because such great 
spiritual power seems sometimes to be given to those 
whose doctrine we know to be erroneous and whose 
teaching we are convinced is mistaken? Then let us 
remember the story of the woman who was a Syro- 
phoenician by nation — ^a heathen, and therefore imbued 
with much false doctrine — ^yet to whose prayer the 
Master made answer, " O woman, great is thy faith ; 
be it unto thee even as thou wilt," and whose daughter 
was healed that very hour. 

It may appear a contradiction in terms to say that 
faith must precede the sound doctrine on which it is 

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based — ^that the superstructure must come before the 
firm foundation — (for let no man suppose but that the 
sound doctrine and the firm foundation are vitally 
necessary). And it would be indeed a senseless para- 
dox, if faith were of earthly origin and built up from 

. But the new Jerusalem, the city of faith, is no cit- 
adel of this world, formed by laying stone upon stone 
and storey upon storey, until every tower and battle- 
ment rises slowly towards the sky; but the holy city 
comes down from God out of heaven, as a bride adorned 
for her husband, already perfected with her walls of 
jasper and her gates of pearl. It is last and not first 
that we read of her foundations — ^they come after the 
wall great and high, and the gates that open to all the 
four quarters of the earth. But she has her founda- 
tions nevertheless, which teaches us that they err who 
say that faith is everything, and the dogmas on which 
faith is founded are nothing at all — ^who preach the 
doctrine that " forms of faith *' are but the stalking 
horses of " graceless bigots.'* For, mark you ! the 
foundations of the city were not only garnished with 
all manner of precious stones; they had also written 
upon them the names of the Twelve Apostles of the 
Lamb. The city was new, and the garnishing of jewels 
was new, and the absence of pain and sorrow and crying 
was new; but there was nothing new in the theology 
on which its foundations were laid, for the names in- 
scribed thereon were the names of those Twelve Apostles 
—and of them only — ^who were the original fouijders 
of the faith once delivered to the saints. 

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This' chance meeting with the sect known as the 
** Friends of the Bridegroom" was an awakening — a 
perfect revelation — ^to Amelia Tovey. Amelia had 
always been a good woman according to her lights, but 
those lights flickered feebly, for the oil that fed them 
had run low before ever they were handed on to Amelia 
by her parents and teachers. She knew much about 
religion as a system of conduct; she knew nothing at 
all about it as a living force. And Amelia was by 
nature one of those women in whom the religious instinct 
is very strong. She would have been terribly shocked 
if anybody had told her so, but nevertheless the fact 
remained that her real vocation was the conventual life 
-rHshe was a born nun or sister of charity. Therefore 
this starving of the religious side of her nature was a 
very serious thing indeed for Amelia Tovey. She was 
fitted by nature for the cloister — ^not for the hearth; 
but as all her friends and neighbours agreed — as friends 
and neighbours always do agree — that the hearth is the 
only possible vocation for a woman, and that women to 
whom the happiness of the hearth is denied have no 
place at all in the scheme of creation, Amelia naturally 
agreed with them ; and believed that the aching void in 
her life was caused by the fact that no man had loved 
her and sought her in marriage. But it was nothing 
of the kind. Amelia was not one of the numerous 
women who are hungry for the love of man; she was 
one of those rarer souls who are hungry for the love of 
God. Unsuspected by herself, and still more unsus- 
pected by those about her, the little dressmaker was 
athirst for the Living God; she was consumed by a 

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longing for fellowship with the Divine, though until 
now she had not understood what it was that her life 
so sorely lacked. 

Then she fell in with a small party of " Friends of 
the Bridegroom," and the light came. 

These people were ignorant of theology, and in many 
respects mistaken in their teaching ; but to them Christ 
was a real Person — a known and tried Friend — and 
herein lay their strength. 

For the first time in her life Amelia realised that the 
Christian religion is no code of conduct founded upon 
the maxims of a Divine Teacher Who visited this earth 
some nineteen centuries ago; but an intimate relation- 
ship — a close union — ^with an omnipresent, all-sufficing, 
ever-loving Christ. The blank in her life was filled with 
His Presence, the empty space in her heart was over- 
flowing with His love. For her the cold winter of loneli- 
ness was past for ever; the rain of tears was over and 

It was but a little that she had passed from her 
old companions, with their trivial pleasures and their 
sordid cares; but she had found Him Whom her soul 
loved, and she held Him and would not let Him go. 

She was simple and humble and ignorant — ^a woman 
with no rank or beauty or culture — a unit of no account 
in the world; but her Beloved had come to her from 
beyond the mountain ; the King of Heaven had brought 
her into His banqueting house, and His banner over 
her was love. For this King takes no account of per- 
sons, and not many mighty, not many noble, are called 
by Him; but He goes forth into the fields where men 

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and women are toiling for their Kving, and He lodges 
in the villages among the humble and simple folk. 

One of the tenets of the "Friends of the Bride- 
groom " was that the Second Coming was dose at hand ; 
that it would be but a very short time before they heard 
the Bridegroom's Voice and found their joy fulfilled. 
And this tenet Amelia accepted without doubt or de- 
mur, and it flooded her soul with ecstasy. Only a few 
short months, she said to herself, and she would see 
Him with these eyes, and fall at His Feet and worship 
Him, crying Rabboni; and the thought made her dizzy 
with excess of joy. 

They had decided — ^by what strange and ingenious 
interpretation of prophecy it is not necessary to specify 
here — ^that He would come the second time, as He came 
the first, on Christmas Day; for they were too unlet- 
tered to know that the Feast of Christmas is but the 
season set apart by the Church for her yearly com- 
memoration of the birth of her Lord, and that the 
actual date of the Divine Advent in the far-ofF Syrian 
stable fell probably some time in the early spring. And 
they further had arrived at the conclusion that the 
Christmas Day of the year then in progress was the 
moment that He had selected for His coming again. 
This Amelia firmly believed ; and the belief brought her 
the greatest happiness it was possible for a woman to 

Through that autumn she lived in a golden dream. 
" He is coming,'* she said to herself the first thing in 
the morning and the last thing at night; and she re- 
joiced as the hours slipped by, feeling that each one in 

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its passing brought her nearer to Him. The " Friends 
of the Bridegroom *' shared the old belief that when He 
comes again He will appear, like the dayspring, in the 
east; and little Miss Tovey used to sit at the window 
of her tiny bedroom, which looked towards the low, blue 
hills that lie to the eastward of Merchester, and medi- 
tate for hours as to how He would come on the wings 
of the morning across those very hills to claim her for 
his Own. 

Mrs. Peppercorn's word in season was duly uttered, 
but it fell upon unheeding ears. Amelia's soul was rapt 
in contemplation of a Beatific Vision which it had not 
entered Into the heart of Mrs. Peppercorn to conceive, 
and consequently the little dressmaker was lifted far 
above the cares and conversation of her neighbours. 
They might criticise and condemn her, but it mattered 
not to her, for her Lord had hidden her privily in His 
Own Presence from the provoking of all men ; she was 
kept secretly in His Tabernacle from the strife of 
tongues. Eyes that have once seen the King in His 
beauty are henceforward blind to the faults and follies 
of that humanity which He glorified by taking It upon 
Himself; ears that have once heard the Shepherd's 
Voice, and known and followed Him, are from that 
moment deaf to the whispers of carping criticism and 
petty calumny. 

But there were those who sneered at Amelia's absorp- 
tion, deciding to make use of it for their own selfish 
ends; and of such were her brother Thomas and his 
wife, the former being out of work just then. 

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It seemed to them remarkably clever to lead Amelia 
on to talk of her religious beliefs, and to appear half 
convinced thereby; and then to argue that — as she 
would have no further use of money after Christmas 
Day — ^it was absurd for her to continue to save it; 
finally arriving at the obvious conclusion that she 
would be well advised if she handed all her spare cash 
over to them at once. 

" You see, Amelia, it's in this way," argued Thomas, 
with a wink at his wife which his sister did not see: 
" it's no good your puttin' by for your summer outin% 
as is your regular custom at Christmas time, because^ 
as far as I understand, you'll be takin' your next sum- 
mer's outin' in the New Jerusalem, where it's all free, 
gratis, for nothink." 

Amelia clasped her hands in an ecstasy. " Oh ! isn't 
it wonderful to think of, dear Thomas? All the tired- 
ness and the poverty over and done with, and nothing 
but glorious happiness for ever and ever. Sometimes I 
can hardly believe it — ^it seems too good to be true ; but 
I do beUeve it, all the same, because I know it is the 
truth, and that our Lord when He comes will think 
nothing too good for His children and friends." 

" Well, Amelia, all I can say is that I envy you your 
good opinion of yourself, makin' that sure as you'll be 
* numbered with the saints,' as the Scriptures have it." 
It was Mrs. Thomas who spoke, and her knowledge of 
Holy Writ — as of other things — ^was elementary, 
*^ I've known folks quite as good as you and quite as 
deservin', who were too frightened of hell fire to have 
time to turn their attention to the joys of heaven." 

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" Oh ! no, Sarah, it isn't that I am good, or that I 
deserve anything, because I don't. I just take it all 
from the Lord as His free gift. Don't you understand? 
We can do nothing of ourselves, and claim noth- 
ing; but through Christ we can do all things, and all 
things are ours. Life and death and things present 
and things to come ; and we are Christ's, and Christ is 

But Amelia's theology — or Saint Paul's either, for 
the matter of that — did not suit Mrs. Thomas Tovey. 
**Well, I don't understand such religion, and, what's 
more, I don't want to. I don't pretend to put myself 
on an equality with the saints or to be dealt with quite 
the same as them; but I have been an honest, hard- 
workin' woman all my life, and a good wife to Thomas 
and a good mother to the children; and if I don't get 
my proper reward for that, I shall consider as I've 
not been fairly done by. There's something between 
expectin' to take a top place among the saints and 
angels, Amelia, and sayin' as you don't deserve any- 
think at the hands of the Almighty but what He choose 
to give you out of charity; and that's my opinion, me 
not being presumptuous on the one hand, nor yet not 
knowin' what is due to me on the other." 

Here Mr. Tovey interrupted the eschatological medi- 
tation of his better half. ** Never mind about the 
future, Sarah; make your mind easy that you'll get 
your deserts, old girl, like the rest of us. But about 
your summer outin', Amelia? It's no good puttin' 
money by for what will never happen; that's clear; 
and, besides, it seems not quite complimentary to the 

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Almighty, as you might say, to believe in one way and 
behave in the other, as if you doubted His Word." 

This was a master-stroke on the part of the wily 

" Oh! Thomas, do you think so? Why, I wouldn't 
for the whole world do anything that looked like want 
of faith in my Saviour, or seemed in the very least to 
throw a shadow on my loyalty to the Master Whom I 
serve ! Surely, surely, I have not done or saicj anything 
that could give anybody such an impression ? '' 

"WeU, Amelia, I don't want to hurt your feelin's, 
but I can't help sayin' that puttin' by money for a trip 
to Aberystwith next summer — after all you've said 
about bein' so certain as you'll be in the New Jerusalem 
by then — does strike me a bit in that way." 

This argument completely finished Amelia; she gave 
up her little hoard of savings at once, and rejoiced at 
the same time in being able to offer this tangible proof 
of her absolute belief in the speedy coming of her Lord. 
And when Thomas — emboldened by his success in diplo- 
macy — ^went on to add, " Now, 'pon my word, this is 
very convincin' on your part, Amelia, and shows me as 
there is some sense in your notions^ after aU!" her 
warm heart overflowed with thankfulness that she had 
been thus privileged to testify to the truth. 

Thomas and Sarah laughed in their sleeves at her 
credulity, and congratulated themselves and each other 
on their own worldly wisdom. But there is a wisdom 
of this world which is foolishness with God. 

All the time Amelia was getting the tea ready, her 
brother and his wife made merry together over her sim- 

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plicity; at least Thomas made merry, while Sarah sat 
and plumed herself upon not being such a fool as her 
sister-in-law, though a far more strictly religious person 
in every way. 

"I'm very glad to see as you are such a changed 
character, Amelia," she remarked as they sat down to 
tea, " very glad indeed, for I used to think you sadly 
worldly and fond of pleasure and given to dress, which 
was perhaps owin' to your takm' up the dressmakin% 
which is a very frivolous profession and full of tempta- 
tions for the unwary ; but I'm not altogether comforta- 
ble in my mind at seein' you so cheerful-like and happy 
in your mind, since religion is given us to keep us 
serious and sober, and with the fear of death always 
before our eyes." 

" Oh, no, Sarah dear ! The object of religion is to 
make us happier than anything and to fill our lives 
with peace and holy joy. Our Saviour came that we 
might have life, and might have it more abundantly; 
not that we might turn our thoughts to death and 
decay, which He came in order to destroy." 

But Mrs. Thomas still shook her head. "Well, 
Amelia, I'm bound to say that I haven't much confi- 
dence in the sort of religion that makes people happy 
and cheerful ; it's too light and frivolous for my taste, 
and isn't at all what I have been accustomed to. I'm 
afraid that too late you'll find out your mistake, and 
see that you have all along been cryin' peace when 
there was no peace, and buildin' a house of sand. And 
now, if you don't mind, I think I'll take a teaspoonful 
of brandy in my tea, if you happen to have any in the 

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house, as I feel a bit done up with all this talk about 
religion, and the walk from Merchester into the bar- 
gain ; and I'm one as can't stand much fatigue without 
havin' a bit of a pick-me-up to support me," continued 
the self-righteous Sarah, who was one of those by no 
means uncommon so-called Christians who make up for 
spiritual sternness by physical self-indulgence, forget- 
ting that the end and aim of the Christian religion is 
to keep the body under subjection, but to set the spirit 
free into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 

It was a bitterly cold winter that year, and Miss 
Tovey was one of those people who always feel the cold 
acutely. Moreover the state of spiritual emotion and 
exaltation in which she now existed did not tend to 
increase her never vigorous bodily strength. Her heart 
was not strong, and never had been, and she needed a 
good deal of care and consideration ; but as she had no 
one to supply her with these lubricants of the wheel of 
life, and was far too unselfish to supply them for herself, 
the hard winter fell heavily upon the little dressmaker. 
She did not even take as much care of herself as she 
was accustomed to take at this trying season of the 
year, because she was so certain that when Christmas 
came the need for taking care would be for ever over, 
and there would be no more pain or weakness for her 
for evermore. She did not even trouble to save any 
money except what would keep her until Christmas Day,* 
so sure was she that the Bridegroom would come then 
to possess the earth and to reign for ever and ever. Her 
only care was that she should have her lamp burning, 
so as to be ready for Him when He came; and every 

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day, as she watched the dawn break, she poured out Her 
soul in thanksgiving that it was one day nearer to 
the moment when He would come on the wings of the 
morning over the distant hills. 

It was Christmas Eve, and Amelia was just going 
out to spend her last few shillings on the fob^^cessary 
for that day, when Sarah arrived from Merches^lT^tH 
a pitiful story as to how she and Thomas were so tS^p^t 
of funds that they literally had not enough to buji^* 
Christmas dinner for themselves and their children ; anc 
begged Amelia to help them. For a moment Amelia 
hesitated ; she had given all the money she possessed to 
Thomas and his wife, excepting just enough for her 
needs until the dawning of the Great Day; and if she 
gave up that she would have literally nothing to ieat. 
But she hesitated only for a moment. Then she laughed 
to herself for her folly in supposing that anything mat- 
tered to-day, since everything would be put right to- 
morrow, and that after to-day she could hunger no 
more, neither thirst any more, neither could the sun 
light upon her, nor any heat ; for the Lamb which was 
in the midst of the Throne would feed her, and would 
lead her unto living fountains of water, and God 
Himself would wipe away all tears from her eyes. 

So she gave to her sister-in-law every penny that she 
had, forbearing, however, to mention the fact that she 
had nothing in the world left. Perhaps even the self- 
righteous covetousness of Mrs. Thomas Tovey would 
have shrunk from exposing her husband's sister to the 
pangs of actual starvation; but with that sturdy old 
middle-class pride — whereof the upper and the lower 

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classes are alike innocent — ^which regards its poverty 
as a thing to be hidden out of sight and never men- 
tioned, Amelia would rather have died than confess how 
utterly impecunious she was. And Mrs. Thomas re- 
turned with her spoil to Merchester, grumbling that 
Amelia had not given her more. 

Later in the day a heavy snow began to fall, and 
Amelia sat over her last bit of fire, feeling physically 
too weak and exhausted to venture out of doors, but 
uplifted by a spiritual fervour, an ecstasy the happiness 
of which exceeded all words. When her last lump of 
coal had burnt out she went supperless to bed ; but her 
bliss was far too great for her to be conscious of any 
bodily pain or suffering. 

" Amelia 'ull be fine and put out and disappointed 
when she wakes up to-morrow mornin' and finds out her 
mistake," Thomas Tovey remarked with a laugh to his 
better-half as they retired for the night. 

But he was wrong. It was he who had made the 
mistake — ^not Amelia. 

All through that bitter Christmas Eve the little 
dressmaker was unconscious of either cold or hunger, 
for her mind was wandering, already half loosed from 
the trammels of the flesh, and she heard strains of 
heavenly music and saw visions of angels. " He is 
coming ! He is coming ! " she kept saying to herself as 
she passed from one dream of ineffable delight to 
another. And just as the first rays of the rising sun 
gilded the edge of the horizon, turning its pinnacles 
into the battlements of a city wall made of jasper stone 
and of pure gold — ^just as the white-robed world, in 

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the first flush of dawn blushed as a bride blushes at the 
coming of the bridegroom, and adorned herself for him 
with her jewels of diamond and ruby and sapphire — 
on the wings of the morning, by the way of the 
dayspring, over the hills He came. 

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In accordance with that strange propensity of human 
nature to say its tenderest words and to force its choic- 
est gifts into ears and hands that are already closed by 
death, Miss Tovey's friends now accorded to her a 
consideration and regard which would have crowned her 
days with joy had she received it when living, but 
which was strictly denied her during her unsMsh and 
innocent lifetime. It is remarkable how prone people 
are to withhold the encouraging word and the approv- 
ing tribute as long as that word and that tribute can 
be of any use in lightening a comrade's path or in 
lightening a fellow-traveller's burden; and then — ^when 
the path has ended in the light which knows no shadow, 
and the burden has rolled away never more to return — 
they hasten to offer their now useless comfort and 
relief. They are chary of strewing with even the com- 
monest flowers the dusty pathway of their fellow- 
pilgrims, but they do not hesitate to deck with the 
costliest exotics the empty sepulchres of those shining 
ones who now walk in the fields of fadeless asphodel and 
feed among the lilies which flourish in the paradise of 

Thus it happened that words of praise and approval 
were uttered over Amelia's grave which would have 


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made the whole difference in life to her had they but 
been uttered a year earlier ; but now they came too late. 
Then her happiness lay in the hands of her neighbours, 
and they sternly withheld it from her; now it was 
secure in the Hands of God, and nothing they could 
say could ever harm her any more. Yet they blamed 
her when their blame had power to hurt her, and they 
praised her when their praise could no longer please — 
which proved that the people of Dinglewood were made 
after the same pattern as the people in all the other 
habitable parts of the earth. 

**She was a perfect saint, was Amelia Tovey," re- 
marked Mrs. Peppercorn, " a perfect saint, that's what 
[Amelia was. And she died from the effects of unselfish- 
ness, which is a disease that don't seem likely ever to 
take the epidemic form." 

** It was her brother Thomas and his wife that killed 
her, put it how you like," said Mrs. Paicey, the tears 
coursing each other down her comely cheeks. " I 
know'd what they was after every time I see them 
coming to Amelia's — sponging on her, that was their 
game, as you might say." 

**And they sponged on her till they sponged her 
dry," added Mrs. Peppercorn, " and she died of starva- 
tion. Yes, Mrs. Paicey, you never spoke a truer word 
in your life than when you said as how Thomas Tovey 
and his wife had killed poor Amelia." 

Mrs. Paicey was right — ^they had indeed killed 
Amelia. But they had been powerless to hurt her, 
which was a distinction that neither Mrs. Paicey nor 
Mrs. Peppercorn could possibly understand. 

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** Many a time has Paicey said to me, * Mary Ann,' 
he says, * I can't understand how Tovey has the face to 
sponge on his poor sister as he does,' says he. * It's 
downright unmanly and shameful,' he says, ^ that's 
what I call it-' They never came near poor Amelia 
unless they wanted something out of her, so to speak, 
as Paicey and I often passed the remark — never 

Mrs. Peppercorn nodded her head in acquiescence. 
" That's so, Mrs. Paicey ; and for my part I don't alto- 
gether relish visiting with folks as are made after that 
pattern. Them that are always asking for something 
soon wear out their welcome as far I am concerned. 
I'm very glad to see my friends and relations, and to 
give them of my very best at my own table ; but when 
they begin asking for this, that, and the other to take 
back home with them, then it's soon closing-time with 
me. I'm ready and willing to give ^ indoor-relief,' as 
they say at the workhouse ; but when folks come asking 
for * outdoor relief ' as well, it's a bit too much of a 
good thing." 

The two worthy matrons were standing by Amelia's 
grave after service on a Sunday morning, according 
to a ritual of Dinglewood which ordained that the last 
resting-places of the newly-departed should be visited 
by all their friends and neighbours at that particular 
hour of the day and week; and at this moment they 
caught sight of Claude Forrester and Dagmar Silver- 
thome walking away from church together. 

" Ah ! there goes young Mr. Forrester and Miss Sil- 
verthome," exclaimed Mrs. Paicey. " It seems a pity 

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as them two don't make a match of it, as you might 

" So it does, Mrs. Paicey ; you never spoke a truer 
word. Young folks are better married — ^and old ones, 
too, for the matter of that, though double harness 
don't always come easy to them as have been running 
in the shafts too long with no one to keep pace with 
but themselves." 

^^ Well, Mr. Claude is young enough, as yon might 
say, to suit anybody." 

"He's young enough, Mrs. Paicey, but I'm not so 
sure about his common-sense ever since he made The- 
ophilus Sprott vicar of Dinglewood. A man who could 
do that might be very trying as a husband — ^very try- 
ing indeed — for there's nothing so trying in a hus- 
band as foolishness." 

"That is so, Mrs. Peppercorn, foolishness being a 
nuisance to everybody, as you might say." 

" Not as you've got any call to say it, Mrs. Paicey — 
not at all — for an easier man to live with than Mr. 
Paicey I never met." 

For a minute her sense of justice and her wifely 
loyalty struggled for the mastery in Mrs. Paicey's 
gentle soul. Then the former won the day. "You 
never were more mistaken in your life, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn, than when you said as Paicey was an easy man to 
live with. Steady and honest and sober and God-fear- 
ing, if you like — ^none more so. But when it comes to 
easiness, Paicey ain't in it with some." 

*^Well, of course, you know better than I do," re- 
torted Mrs. Peppercorn, in a tone which implied that 

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Mrs. Paicey did not really know half so well. " But 
I doubt not as Mr. Claude will make a trying husband. 
Those very high-minded ones always do." 

"It certainly was a pity him making Theophilus 
Sprott into our vicar,'' remarked Mrs. Paicey, "but 
you've borne it better than I expected, Mrs. Pepper- 
corn. At one time I was afraid as you'd give up com- 
ing to our church altogether and join the chapel- 

" Well, Mrs. Paicey, to tell you the truth, so I should 
have done if the chapel had been a bit nearer. But 
at my time of life three miles is three miles, whatever 
you may say. Some folks choose the highest church 
and some the lowest church, according to taste; but 
when they are my age and my size they choose the 
nearest church, and rest and be thankful." 

"And, after all, Mrs. Peppercorn, Theophilus 
Sprott isn't as bad as we expected him to be= — ^there's 
no denying that he isn't. I'm sure he visits well and 
looks after the poor, and his sermons are as lowering 
to the spirits as anybody could wish." 

Mrs. Peppercorn nodded her head emphatically. 
*' That IS so, Mrs. Paicey ; and, what's most important 
of all, he ain't guided by his mother in anything. Many 
a set-down has he given to her before my very eyes ; and 
as to taking her advice — ^why, he'd sooner go two miles 
in the opposite direction. If Mrs. Sprott never knew 
her place before, she's learnt it since her son became 
vicar of Dinglewood; and, for my part, I'm not alto- 
gether sure that Mr. Claude made such a mistake 
after all in giving him the living," continued Mrs. 

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Peppercorn, veering round from her original state- 

" Well, anyhow, Mr. Claude makes a mistake in not 
fancying Miss Dagmar, and her such a personable 
young lady, with all that money, and having turned 
her orphanage back into a monastery just to please 
him, as it were." 

But Mrs. Peppercorn looked doubtful. " I'm not so 
sure as I approve of her changing her mind about the 
orphanage, Mrs. Paicey. Mark my words; it don't 
do to pamper men too much ! Let 'em have their own 
opinions about things as don't matter to nobody, and 
give 'em the victuals as they fancy ; that's all right and 
proper, and behaving as a good wife should ; but when 
it comes to turning your own plans topsy-turvy just 
to suit their whims, it's a different thing. I'm sure 
if Peppercorn were to search the world over he'd never 
find another wife who'd interfere less with his politics 
and more with his digestion than I dp. * Bless you. 
Peppercorn,' says I, * it don't matter to me whether 
your food's taxed or whether it isn't as long as it don't 
disagree with you.' That's what I say to Peppercorn 
when he begins laying down the law on Free Trade and 
Protection and nonsense of that kind, for it don't mat- 
ter to me how much rubbish he puts into his head, as 
long as he don't put any into his stomach." 

*' Ah ! but you're a good wife, Mrs. Peppercorn, and 
no mistake. Many a time have I passed the remark 
to Paicey that there ain't a better wife in Dinglewood 
than yourself." 

" Well, I try to be, Mrs. Paicey ; and if folks try for 

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a thing they generally succeed, given that they've got 
a head on their shoulders," replied Mrs. Peppercorn 
with justifiable and becoming pride. " But if Pepper- 
corn thinks as I'm the sort of wife that'll go and live 
with him in a monastery, or any nonsense of that kind, 
he'll soon find out his mistake. Which I'm afraid poor 
Miss Dagmar will do before she's done, if I know any- 
thing about men and their ways." 

And it really seemed as if Mrs. Peppercorn's wis- 
dom was not at fault in this particular instance; for 
Christmas had come and gone, and the new year had 
started on its race, and yet poor Dagmar found her- 
self as far as ever from the realisation of her hopes 
and dreams. True, there was absolute peace between 
herself and Claude; nay, there was more than peace, 
there was warm friendship; but Claude was once again 
so obsessed by the idea of the monastery — so absorbed 
in it to the exclusion of every other consideration — 
that love-making was further from his thought than 

Dagmar was thankful for small mercies; anyhow 
his friendship was better than his enmity, but she was 
slowly realising that, as far as the attainment of her 
heart's desire was concerned, her great renunciation 
had been in vain. 

Claude was full of praise and enthusiasm both for 
herself and her project; he was unsparing in his ap- 
plause of her thoughts and words and works ; but that 
was not what poor little Dagmar wanted. She longed 
for his love rather than his approbation ; she yearned for 
his tenderness rather than his praise. And the tragedy 

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of it was that all the time Claude imagined he was 
doing her the utmost honour. He was incapable of 
understanding how unsatisfying are even the most pre- 
cious stones to the soul that is crying for bread. 

He had not the faintest idea that Dagmar had 
adopted the idea of the monastery solely to please him ; 
had he reaHsed this, no power on earth would have 
induced him to accept her sacrifice. He was one of the 
many men who believe what they are told, and he as- 
sumed that Dagmar had, through his preaching, been 
convinced of the error of her ways, and had thereupon 
straightway amended them. He was thankful that he 
had been chosen as the instrument whereby she was con- 
verted to the truth; but that he was the end, and not 
the means, was a thought that never once occurred to 

It likewise never occurred to him to be jealous that 
this great work should after all be done by Dagmar and 
not by him. If only it were done — ^if only a fair temple 
were raised in that lovely Mercian valley to be a shelter 
for weary pilgrims and a continual testimony to the 
Central Fact of the universe — it mattered not to him 
whether his own name were associated with it or not. 
Let his memorial perish with him, so long as the work 
of God were forwarded and the glory of God set forth ! 
This was all that he cared for. 

Above all things he desired that the Will of God 
should be done ; so far he fulfilled the ideal of the Chris- 
tian life. But he was not yet content that that Will 
should be done in God's way and not in his own ; wherein 
he still fell short of perfection. 

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It was an afternoon in the third week of January — 
as a rule the worst week of weather in the whole year 
'—and snow was falling heavily. Claude was having 
tea with Dagmar and her chaperone in the morning- 
room which used to be Miss Fallowfield's special sanc- 
tum. As usual the talk turned on the monastery- 
Claude never spoke or thought about anything else in 
those days. The outer portion of the building was now 
approaching completion, and its perfect symmetry and 
beauty testified to the proficiency and taste of the 
young architect who had designed it. 

" It must all be beautiful," he said, " but I want the 
chapel to be the most beautiful of all. I hold that the 
sacramental principle runs through everything, and 
that every visible thing of beauty should have an under- 
lying meaning — should, in short, be a symbol of some 
hidden truth. Therefore as the central event in history 
in which all other events culminated was the great Sac- 
rifice upon Calvary, which the Church shows forth daily 
imtil her Lord comes again — so the holy place where 
that Sacrifice is commemorated should always be the 
innermost centre and the choicest spot of its surround- 
ings — the heart of the rose of the world. That is why 
a church should always be the most beautiful thing in a 
village, and a cathedral the culminating point of a 
city, and the altar the most ornate part of a sacred 
building. I think you will see what I mean? " 

Like all men who are accustomed to lay down the 
law to an audience of admiring women, Claude was in- 
creasingly apt to indulge in long sentences and polished 
periods when conversing with DAgmar and Miss Per- 

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kins. His thought would always be beautiful and his 
ideals high; but he would have expressed them with 
more reserve and less eloquence in the society of his 
peers. The two ladies, however, considered his dicta 
most cultured and elevating, and did not hesitate to 
express this opinion both to each other and to him. 
And perhaps after all they were not so far wrong; at 
any rate, Claude's somewhat old-fashioned pedantry 
was no worse than the slang of the present day. 

" Oh ! yes, I quite see what you mean, and I agree 
with every word of it," Dagmar replied. " But then 
I always do agree with what you say, except when you 
are wrong, and even then you put things so beautifully 
that I always think you are right when I know you 
are not.'* 

" Yes, Mr. Claude,'' said Miss Perkins, " your views 
certainly do you great credit. You appear to me to 
have a most wonderful insight into the inner heart of 
things — remarkable indeed in one so young." Had 
Miss Perkins known the stronger sex a little better than 
she did, she would not have added that rider to her 
otherwise satisfactory comment. But in a girls' school 
one does not learn much of the ways of man. 

Claude, however, forgave her aspersion on his age 
for the sake of her admiration of his sentiments. 
*' Thank you, Miss Perkins," he said. 

" I think, Dagmar," he continued, " that after a 
time I shall have to go abroad to collect, among the 
ancient churches and religious houses of France and 
Italy, some relics and things of beauty for the adorn- 
ment of our chapel ; and even if I do not succeed in col- 

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lecting any actual pictures or images for the beautify- 
ing of our little Midland shrine, I shall certainly ob- 
tain some valuable hints as to how I can more per- 
fectly model it upon the glorious pattern of the Middle 

Dagmar's expressive face fell considerably. " Shall 
you be away long? " she asked, with an appealing note 
in her voice. " But even if it isn^t really long, it will 
seem long to Perky and me left all alone by ourselves." 

The appealing note struck Claude's not always very 
sympathetic ear. " I wasn't thinking of leaving you 
all alone," he explained. " I was going to suggest that 
you and Miss Perkins should come with me and help 
me. Your counsel and advice would be of the greatest 
assistance to me ; and besides — ^when all's said and done 
— it is your chapel and not mine." 

Dagmar's brow cleared at once. " Oh ! Claude, that 
would be perfectly lovely. It would be the greatest 
fun going about with you, and picking up worn-out 
altars and things of that kind, to bring home with 
us. I should simply adore it ! " 

Miss Perkins corrected her quondam pupil. ** I 
should hardly describe such a pursuit as fun, my love. 
I should rather say that it would be extremely instruct- 
ive and elevating to assist Mr. Claude in searching for 
antique models on which to fashion the interior of his 
chapel ; or, better still, in finding curios and relics which 
could be conveyed over here for its adornment." 

" I know it would ; that is precisely what I was say- 
ing. Perky dear," retorted Dagmar unabashed. 

" Hullo ! " exclaimed Claude, " X hear wheels coming 

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up the park! Whoever can be paying calls on suph 
an afternoon as this?'' 

Dagmar ran to the window, and peered through the 
falling snow at the approaching vehicle, " It looks 
like a cab from Merchester.*' 

" But, my love, whom do you expect from Merchester 
on such a day and in such weather? " 

" Pve no idea, Perky. Oh, yes, I have ! It must 
be Mr. Duncan coming to tell us something about that 
tiresome old fortune ! " 

"But what could he have to tell us fresh?'' asked 

" I can't say. All I can say is that when I see any- 
body coming here unexpectedly from Merchester, I 
always know it is Mr. Duncan coming to tell us that 
the fortune has all the time belonged to somebody else 
who never had it before, and that it has never belonged 
to the owner at all." 

**WeII, I'll go out and see what the old gentleman 
really has to say, as he would certainly never have come 
all the way from Merchester in such fearful weather un- 
less he had something of importance to communicate," 
said Claude, going out into the hall, as the cab had 
by that time stopped at the front door, and the occu- 
pant had alighted and rung the bell* 

It was not many seconds before the butler answered 
the bell, and an elderly gentleman stepped into the 
house, shaking off as he did so the snow which had 
collected on his coat even in those few seconds. 

" Good-afternoon, Mr. Duncan," said Claude, going 
forward in the fading light to meet him. "It is an 

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awful day for you to have ventured out ! I hope you 
aren't very wet." 

Then the elderly gentleman turned, and the firelight 
fell upon his face ; and Claude stopped short with a cry 
of amazement on perceiving that the newcomer was not 
Mr. Dimcan at all, but his own father, Luke Forrester ! 

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** You wiD wonder that I did not forewarn you of my 
arrlyal,'' said Mn Forrester, when the first amazed 
greetings were over and the excitement and surprise had 
simmered down a little ; ^^ but the fact is I travelled as 
fast as any letter could, and I was not within reach of 
a telegraph-office until this morning. And somehow 
I hesitated to send you such startling news until I knew 
where you both were, and what you were doing. Be- 
sides, I did not know even if you were both alive — ^much 
less where you were living.'* 

"And how did you find out?" was Dagmar's most 
pertinent question. 

" I stopped at Duncan's on my way through Mer- 
chester, and he told me all about everybody, and posted 
me up in all the current affairs." 

Claude was almost stunned with the shock of his joy 
at finding that his father was yet alive. He could 
hardly speak. "Father, tell us where you have been, 
and how you were saved from the wreck? " was all that 
he could utter; and his voice trembled so that he could 
with difficulty say even that. 

Luke Forrester laid his hand very lovingly on his 
son's shoulder, as they sat together by the fire. " Yes, 
my boy ; I am coming to that. But first I am thinking 
how very good it is to be here, and to see your face 


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again. God has shown wonderful mercy towards me. 
If only she were here ! *' And tears filled his eyes as 
he looked at the empty chair that always used to be 
Miss Fallowfield^s. 

Dagmar's glance followed his. " Now that you have 
come back, I cannot help thinking that Aunt Charlotte 
might come back too ! '* 

But Mr. Forrester shook his head and sighed. 
" There is no coming back for those who have actually 
crossed the river, my child." 

" But you see that until a quarter of an hour ago, 
you were just as much dead as Aunt Charlotte was — 
at least as far as we were concerned — ^so that the re- 
turn of one could not be more wonderful than the re- 
turn of the other.'* 

" Let Mr. Forrester tell us his story himself, my 
love,'* interpolated Miss Perkins ; " for we are all long- 
ing to hear how his valuable Hfe was preserved." 

" Yes, father, tell us," again pleaded Claude. 

Thus adjured, Luke Forrester began: " I have heard 
from Mr. Duncan all about Rainbrow's return, and how 
he was with my dear wife to the end, firmly believing 
that I had gone down with the sinking ship." 

"He said he saw you go down." Dagmar inter- 
rupted the speaker. 

Mr. Forrester smiled. " So much for human evi- 
dence! He saw me on the sinking ship, and he saw 
the ship go down; but he could not have seen me go 
down, because I never did." 

" What happened? " asked Claude. 

" When the ship finally heeled over and sank — ^which 

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she did in about half an hour after the last of the 
boats had put off — one of my fellow-passengers and I 
were left clinging to a broken spar, which was soon 
drifted away from the immediate vicinity of the wreck. 
As far as I know, we were the only two who survived; 
but of course I could not tell what happened to anyone 
else after once the ship went down.*' 

" I believe that your surmise is correct," said Miss 
Perkins. " At any rate, no other survivor has ever 
been heard of." 

" Well, Johnson and I (Johnson was the name of the 
man who was clinging to the spar with me) managed 
to hold on for what seemed a very eternity, and which 
was certainly a period of many hours; and just as we 
were feeling that we could hold on no longer, but must 
let go, a schooner passed our way, and — through the 
mercy of God — caught sight of us ; so we were saved." 

" Thank God for that! " ejaculated Claude. 

** Amen ! " his father added softly. Then he con- 
tinued : " By the time we were hauled up on board we 
were both practically unconscious; and it was several 
days before we recovered sufficiently to realise our sur- 
roundings. Then we discovered that we were on a 
slave-ship which was anployed in carrying negroes from 
the coast of Zanzibar to other ports, and then selling 
the poor creatures as slaves." 

" Oh, how dreadful ! " exclaimed Dagmar. *' I 
thought that there weren't such things as slaves nowa- 
days, but that they had all been abolished with the 

Mr. Forrester sighed. "Would to God there were 

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not. But alas! there are; and, what is worse stiD, 
the trade is carried on by men belonging to so-called 
Christian countries.'* 

" How very terrible ! " exclaimed Miss Perkins. 

** Terrible indeed ! More terrible than you can have 
any conception of. For there is not only the damning 
fact that men from so-called Christian countries de- 
liberately sell, as they would sell beasts, those weaker 
brethren for whom Christ died ; there is also the minor 
detail that, during their transit from one port to an- 
other, those weaker brethren are subjected to cruelties 
which are not fit to be described to civilised ears ! " 
And Mr. Forrester shuddered at the mere recollection 
of the miseries he had witnessed upon the slave-ship. 

"What happened next?" asked the ever-practical 
Bagmar, after a moment's pause. 

"What happened next, my child, was that neither 
Jackson nor I could stand on one side and see such 
horrible atrocities committed. In the name of the 
Master Whom I serve, I first remonstrated with the 
captain and his crew, and then denounced them. But 
it was all alike of no avail. They were a motley crew, 
made up of the scum of several nationalities ; and their 
ears had been deafened, by long years of evil living, to 
the Voice of God as uttered through His ministers.'* 

" Then did they torture you, too, for interfering? " 
asked Claude, and his breath came thick and fast. 

" No, my son," was the quiet reply ; " they did worse 
than that. They made us plainly to understand that 
if we would hold our tongues and take no notice of 
their nefarious trade, they would land us at the next 

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port with no further ado, whence we could make our 
way back to England ; but that if we persisted in defy- 
ing them, and in doing our utmost to help the poor 
creatures who had fallen into their clutches, they would 
maroon us on the next uninhabited island that their 
schooner passed, and leave us there to spend the re- 
mainder of our days as best we could." 

" Oh ! if I had been you I should have left the poor 
negroes alone, then," said Dagmar. "You see you 
couldn't do them any good, and you might do your- 
selves a most fearful lot of harm." 

*'And what of that?" cried Claude. "The obliga- 
tion to fulfil our duty is not limited by the possible 
unpleasantness of the consequences incurred. Dagmar, 
I am ashamed of you ! " 

Poor Dagmar sighed. " I can't help that. All I 
know is that if there was something the doing of which 
wouldn't do anybody else any good and might do me 
a lot of harm, I shouldn't do it ; that's all. If hurting 
oneself saves other people from being hurt, there's 
something in it, I admit. In that case I should con- 
sent to hurt myself — at least I hope I should. But 
I cannot see the point of voluntarily suffering pain, 
and nobody else being one penny the better for it; I 
can't really, not having been made according to the 
hair-shirt and peas-in-the-shoes pattern." Never did 
Dagmar — ^with her practical shrewdness and her utterly 
unidealised sense of proportion — show herself more 
typically a child of the Midlands than at that moment. 
What she said was absolutely true. She was capable 
of making any sacrifice provided it was first proved to 

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her that practical and tangible good would result there- 
from; but the performance of a sacrifice from which, 
as far as she could see, nobody derived any obvious ad- 
vantage, was quite beyond her powers. 

" If I thought it was right to do a certain thing, I 
trust that I should be able to shut my eyes altogether 
to possible results,'* said Claude, thereby proving his 
denizenship of the high and solitary places of the earth, 

" To tell the truth," said Mr. Forrester with a smile, 
" it never occurred to me that there was any alterna- 
tive. You see, my children, I belong to a generation 
which never learned to analyse its feelings and dissect 
its motives, as you do; and I cannot lay claim to any 
calm and deliberate choosing of the right path. It 
never once entered my head to waive the consequences 
or to make any volimtary sacrifice. I saw no other 
course before me but to persist in lifting up my 
voice against the abominations of slavery: and conse- 
quently Johnson and I were both marooned." 

"Then was Mr. Johnson as — as — self-sacrificing as 
you were?" inquired Dagmar (but "self-sacrificing" 
was not the word she originally intended to use). 

" He likewise belonged to the blind generation who 
neither analyse nor dissect their spiritual nature; and 
he saw no alternative any more than I did. Oh, Dag- 
mar, my dear, the last generation were what you young 
people call a very stodgy lot!" And Mr. Forrester 
fairly laughed. 

" And do you mean to say that those devils landed 
you and Johnson on a desert island and left you 
there? " asked Claude. 

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"Precisely. And there I stayed for the best part 
of two years." 

Claude gave a great sob. "Father, I wonder how 
you could bear it ! '* 

** I could not have borne it had I been alone." 

"Then was Mr. Johnson such a comfort to you?" 
asked Dagmar. 

** Johnson ? Oh ! I wasnH thinking of Johnson. No^ 
poor fellow; he succumbed very soon, and I laid his 
body to rest under a palm tree, where he still waits 
for the Resurrection Morning, while his spirit is serving 
God in other and wider spheres." 

Dagmar looked puzzled. "But you said you 
couldn't have borne it if you had been alone, and yet 
you were alone most of the time." 

" Never alone for a single moment, my child. 
Though that desert island was indeed a valley of the 
shadow of death, there was One with me Whose rod 
and staff were my perpetual comfort; and therefore I 
feared no evil. He opened my eyes, and I saw ; and be- 
hold the island was full of horses and chariots of fire 
roimd about me, and I knew that nothing could hurt 
me or do me any harm. So I laid me down and slept, 
and the Lord sustained me; and He has never failed 
me nor forsaken me from that day to this." 

"But what about poor Mr. Johnson?" asked Miss 
Perkins. " Was he unable to bear the strain of such 
a terrible experience? " 

" He was, poor soul. And so Grod took him." 

** And you? What happened to you, father? That 
is what we are dying to hear." 

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"^As for me, my son, the Lord was with me, as I 
have told you; and He fed me in the wilderness, as of 
old time He fed His servant Elijah. Through His all- 
merciful Providence I was kept alive on that island 
for the space of nearly two yeats. And then at last I 
was successful in attracting the attention of a passing 
ship— not a slave-ship this time, thank God! — ^and so 
was delivered out of my solitary captivity and brought 
home to England." 

" Oh ! father, how good God has been to have spared 
your life!" And Claude's eyes overflowed with tears 
of gratitude. 

" He has, my boy; but He would have been just as 
good if He had seen fit to take me — as he took my dear 
wife — ^to serve Him in the next phase of eternal life 
more fully and perfectly than it is possible to serve 
Him within the limitations of our present existence. 
We are all in His Hands, and whatever He does is best." 

And then Mr. Forrester went on to impart sacred 
confidences as to his last words with his wife, and all 
the suffering he had endured since her death, while the 
two young people listened to him with tears running 
down their faces; and Miss Perkins tactfully with- 
drew, on the plea of seeing that a room was prepared 
for the wanderer, and everything made comfortable for 
his reception. 

After they had dined, and the excitement of Mr. 
Forrester's return had in some measure subsided, they 
sat down again round the morning-room fire. Claude 
and his father side by side, and the two ladies opposite. 

" And now please tell us more about Mr. Johnson," 

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said Dagmar. ** How long did he live on the desert 
island before he died. " 

** He only survived the wreck a few weeks — ^probably 
SIX, or at the most eight — but it was rather difficult 
to keep count of time' out there. Poor Johnson was 
so terrified of dying on the island, that he finally died 
from the efl^ects of his own terror. He was one of those 
fellows who are always bowed down by fears as to what 
dreadful thing is going to happen to them next; and 
practically his fear killed him. Surely you must all 
know the sort of person. And the striking thing is 
that it is to such persons that the dreadful things do 

" I have certainly frequently noticed that,*' replied 
Miss Perkins, ^^ and it has puzzled me a good deal. I 
cannot reconcile it with my conscience to believe in ill- 
luck ; nevertheless there really do seem to be some people 
who are bom unlucky, and with whom things always ap- 
pear to turn out badly. They tell me that they are 
unlucky, and I try to disabuse their minds of the idea ; 
yet events often seem to prove that they are right. 
And the strange thing is that it is the people who ex- 
pect to be unlucky who generally are imlucky; while 
naturally one would expect the fear of misfortune to be 
a preventative against misfortune, on the principle that 
* forewarned is forearmed.' It is really very strange, 
and is sometimes rather a trial to one's faith." 

** And in the same way," added Dagmar, " it is the 
people who are afraid of catching diseases that do 
catch them, and the people who live in constant terror 
of carriage accidents whose ,cab-horses always tumble 

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down or run away. I suppose It Is merely an Instance 
of the mind acting on the body.*' 

"That hardly explains it to my satisfaction," ar- 
gued Miss Perkins. " Of course that hypothesis would 
account for a timid person's being more susceptible to 
a disease than a courageous one; but the timidity of 
the occupant of a cab could hardly have any effect 
upon ilie horse that drew the cab." 

*' And still less upon the horses of other cabs which 
ran into it," added Dagmar. 

" I suppose the true explanation is either that some 
people have a natural affinity with misfortune, and so 
attract it to themselves ; or else that their subconscious- 
ness feels the approach of the coming evil, and yet is 
powerless to avoid it," explained the metaphysical 
Claude. " And I conclude that poor Mr. Johnson was 
one of those unfortunate persons." The arrival of 
Mr. Forrester had been such an overpowering surprise 
that those concerned in it were thankful to turn away 
for a moment from the thrill of excitement and emo- 
tion, and seek relief in the discussion of an abstract 
question.' And the wanderer himself — ^who, as an ex- 
perienced parish priest, knew human nature through 
and through — ^fully realised this, and encouraged the 
abstract discussion, thus giving both himself and his 
companions time to recover themselves a little from the 
shock of the meeting. 

" I do not think that any of you have hit upon the 
right solution," he said, " and yet I believe that there 
is a right and a very simple explanation of this puz- 
zling problem." 

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** Pray expound it to us," begged Miss Perkins, 
who, though naturally less excited than the others, 
nevertheless felt the relief of this excursion into ab- 
stract and impersonal realms of thought. 

**My explanation is very simple one," replied Mr. 
Forrester ; " it is as follows : We all know that faith 
is the channel whereby we are enabled to receive super- 
natural blessings ; without faith we can do nothing and 
receive nothing in the spiritual world. Now, I hold 
that the powers of darkness are governed by the same 
divinely appointed law that guides the powers of light ; 
and that as through believing in good we become ca- 
pable of receiving good, so by believing in evil we 
become capable of receiving evil. If God has chosen 
to set this limit to His Own omniscience — ^the limit of 
our faith — do you suppose that He would allow prin- 
cipalities and powers to rise superior to the bounds 
of this limitation? Such an idea is incredible." 

"I see," cried Dagmar; "what you really mean is 
that fear is merely faith upside down." 

" Yes, my child ; you have put the matter into a 
nutshell. As good comes through faith, so evil comes 
through fear ; and this, to my mind, is the explanation 
of what are called unlucky people. By expecting evil 
things to happen to them, they actually bring those 
things to pass; just as by claiming in Christ's name 
every good gift and every perfect gift, so we are enabled 
to receive such blessings, and all things are ours, whether 
life or death, or things present or things to come." 

" Then I suppose it is wrong to be afraid, even if 
we can't help it? " 

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"It is undoubtedly wrong to be afraid, Dagmar," 
replied Mr. Forrester, " and as to our not being able 
to help it, that has nothing to do with the matter. 
We are not able to help anything by ourselves, and 
we are able to help anything and everything by the 
power of Christ. Always remember that he that fear- 
eth is not made perfect in love, because by his fear 
he is putting himself in communication with the powers 
of darkness, and giving them dominion over him." 

*' That is a most interesting and instructive theory," 
remarked Miss Perkins, " and explains a difficulty which 
has often puzzled me." 

" And now, my children," said Mr. Forrester, rising 
from his seat, " if you will allow me, I will retire, as 
I am very tired. I have much to say to you with 
regard to my dear wife's fortune, and the way it must 
be expended ; but that must stand over until to-morrow, 
as I cannot bear any more fatigue just now." 

And with that the little conclave broke up. 

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The next morning dawned bright and frosty, and 
Claude took his father to see the monastery, which al- 
ready gave promise of the exquisite beauty that would 
distinguish it when completed. Snow carpeted the little 
valley, while the stream and lakelets were covered with 
thick ice; and the perfectly proportioned building, ris- 
ing from the white earth into the pale-blue heavens, and 
embowered in a tracery of fairy-like woodland which 
was changed from copper into silver by the alchemy of 
the hoar-frost, was a beautiful sight indeed. 

As they stood looking at the lovely vision, Claude 
gave his father a rough idea of the scheme of the build- 
ing and its endowment; and described, as briefly as he 
could, all that the monastery was intended to be to its 
occupants and to the surrounding neighbourhood. He 
was so sure that his father would understand and enter 
into his conception, that he waxed eloquent in his de- 
scription of the natural and spiritual beauty of which 
this building was to be both a channel and an expres- 
sion, carrying Divine Grace and artistic culture to all 
who came within the sphere of its influence. And when 
he had finished his description and explanation, he 
turned towards the elder man, in certain expectation of 
the seal of paternal encouragement and approval. 


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For a few moments there was silence, as Mr. Forres- 
ter stood still, drinking in the almost unearthly beauty 
of the scene ; then he said : 

^^ It is indeed a beautiful idea, my son, and one that 
does both you and Dagmar credit. I only wish that it 
could be carried out ; as I believe, with you, that an in- 
stitution of this kind would be of infinite value and as- 
sistance to the Church of England in these parts. But, 
alas ! it is impossible." 

Claude's face paled with the shock of an utterly un- 
expected and inexplicable disappointment. ^'But, 
father, I don't understand. How can it be impossible 
when all the plans and arrangements are made already, 
and the fabric nearly completed ? " 

" It is impossible, because my wife gave me full in- 
structions as to how her large fortune was to be laid 
out in the event of her death, and there was no sug- 
gestion of an institution of this kind in any of her 

" But, father, the fortune is yours, isn't it? " 

**It is legally; but morally I have no right to dis- 
pose of it save as she instructed me. She told me not 
long before her death, and after we had held much con- 
sultation together, that she intended to give the whole 
of her vast property — ^after making due provision for 
Dagmar and myself — ^to the building of almshouses for 
decayed gentlewomen, and the provision of small pen- 
sions for the same. And I have no option but to carry 
out her instructions." 

The young man's eyes filled with tears of mortificar 
tiott and anguish. It seemed too cruel for his great 

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scheme to miscarry after all, when it was so near to 
fulfilment. He was too much distressed to be able to 

His father laid a tender hand upon his shoulder. 
" Do not misunderstand me, my boy. I am full of 
approval and admiration for your scheme; and, for 
my own part, should have far more sympathy with the 
building and endowment of an institution of that kind 
than the erection of almshouses for the shelter of worn- 
out old women. But my wife would not have agreed with 
me, I am convinced of that ; and it is her fortune that 
we are laying out — ^not our own. I tell you candidly 
that if the money were mine to do what I liked with, 
hampered by no conditions whatever, I should not hesi- 
tate to throw myself heart and soul into your scheme. 
Further than that, I am proud to have a son who has 
conceived such an idea, and I should have been rejoiced 
to follow and support him in carrying it out. But 
the money is not mine morally, whatever it may be in 
the eyes of the law ; I am only a trustee for my wife's 
property, bound to carry out her instructions, and I 
have no alternative but to do so." 

" But father, you are more than a trustee legally,** 
persisted Claude. 

" I know I am. Morally, I am nothing but my wife's 
trustee, but legally I am the sole possessor of her large 

" Then no one would interfere if you spent the money 
in any way you chose? " Fresh hope began to revive 
in Claude's heart. 

" No one. As far as the law is concerned, I have 

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a perfect right to do whatever I like with the money; 
I could play ducks and drakes with it if I chose.'* 

" Then, surely, if you carry out my step-mother's 
wishes and spend it in charity, you have the right to 
exercise your superior wisdom in selecting the particu- 
lar charities on which it is to be expended ? " 

Mr. Forrester shook his head. " I do not think so.'* 

" But, father," urged Claude, " you admit that the 
monastery is a higher and more useful thing than a 
set of almshouses." 

" Certainly. I fully admit that. But I cannot da 
evil that good may come; do not tempt me, my son*" 

But Claude still pleaded. " Given, as you say, that 
the monastery is really a better and more beneficial 
form of charity than the almshouses, don't you think 
that my stepmother would have agreed with you if 
ever you had laid the idea of the monastery before her. 
Oh, how I wish that I had spoken to her about it before 
she went away ! She was always so interested in chari- 
table schemes. I can't think why I didn't talk to her 
about it, fool that I was! But it never once occurred 
to me to do so." 

" I do not think it would have made any difference 
if you had." 

" Why not, father? " 

" Because in all our conversations upon the subject 
— and they were long and many — my dear wife was 
always firm upon one point, namely, that her money 
should be laid out for the advantage of women and not 
of men." 

" I'm surprised at that ; for, unlike Dagmar, she 

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was a woman who always liked men better than her 
own sex." 

** That is true. She has often said to me that men 
and their ways of looking at things appealed to her 
much more than did the feminine point of view. There 
was a distinctly masculine strain in her strength of in- 
tellect and her breadth of outlook, and she had far 
more in common intellectually with men than with other 

"Then," cried Claude eagerly, "I'm sure that — ^if 
it had once been put before her — ^the idea of the monas- 
tery would have appealed to her more than that of the 

They were walking homewards by this time, as it 
was too cold to remain standing for long to gaze at 
the almost completed edifice; and as they walked, Mr. 
Forrester slipped his arm affectionately through his 
son's. " No, my boy, you are mistaken there. I knew 
your stepmother better than you did, and I am aware 
that, though she liked men better than women, she 
pitied women the most; and she always intended to 
leave her fortune to ameliorate the lot of single women. 
She was undecided as to the best means of doing this, 
but she never wavered as to the end in view. I remem- 
ber her saying, half in joke and half in earnest, how 
much she approved of Queen Elizabeth's presentation 
of a drying-ground to the women of Bristol as a com- 
pensation to them for being so ill-favoured; and that 
she intended to do something on the same lines herself." 

"Oh, father!" It was all that Claude could trust 
himself to say. 

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" I know it IS hard to bear, my boy ; very hard in- 
deed. It IS always hard to bear when God thunders 
forth from Sinai, ^ Thou shalt have none other gods 
but Me. Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven 
image, nor any likeness of anything which is in heaven 
or earth — ^not even of thine own conception of thy duty 
to Me and to thy fellow men, or thine own self-ap- 
pointed ways of serving Me and doing Me honour. 
Thou shalt not bow down to them nor worship them ! * 
We all have to hear these words sooner or later ; and, 
hearing, to obey them, for the Lord our God is a jealous 
God, and will not suffer us to place even our own con- 
ception of Him, and of our duty and service to Him, 
before Himself." 

"Then do you think that I was making an idol of 
the monastery, and that this is my punishment? ** 

" It was a noble form of idolatry, my son — ^perhaps 
the noblest that there is — ^but I think that nevertheless 
it was an infringement of the Second Commandment. 
And I do not call this a punishment. I call it merely 
God's Vindication of Himself — His lesson to you that 
His Will must be done on earth as it is in heaven. For 
not only must His Will be done ; it must be done in His 
own Way and not ours, which is a lesson that some of 
the greatest saints have found it not easy to master. 
* Get thee behind Me, Satan ; thou art an offence unto 
Me ! ' You see that even the greatest of the Apostles 
had to be rebuked, as you are being rebuked to-day, 
for wanting to fulfil God's Will in his own way. So 
you have erred and been convicted of error in good 

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** But I wasn't doing it in any way for my own glory ; 
if I had been, I could have borne the disappointment 
better, as I should have felt that I deserved it." 

" Neither was Saint Peter ; he was trying, as he 
thought, to make things easier for his Master, and 
there was no thought of self mixed up with it at all. 
But he had to learn the lesson of submission as well 
as the lesson of unselfishness. God will not be dictated 
to, even if our dictation is inspired by our zeal for 

"Then you feel certain that Mrs. Forrester would 
not have consented to the idea of the monastery, even if 
I had suggested it to her? " Claude persisted. 

** I do ; absolutely certain ; and you must remember 
that my business is not to do what I think best with my 
wife's fortune, but to carry out what she thought best. 
As I tell you, before she died she had made up her mind 
to build almshouses for impecunious single gentlewomen 
over sixty years of age, and to endow the same with 
pensions. She was very peremptory on the point that 
they were to be single women — ^not widows. Widows, 
she said, ought to be provided for by their husbands 
or kept by their children ; but poor spinsters had nobody 
to turn to, and so she would stand their friend." 

Claude fairly groaned. 

** I am afraid this is the death-blow to the monas- 

** I am afraid it is — as a monastery. But the build- 
ing can be perfectly well adapted to serve the purposes 
of an almshouse ; that is to say, the inmates can lead a 
sort of collegiate life, each having her own bedroom 

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and sitting-room, and all meeting together for meals 
in the great hall and for daily services in the chapel. 
So that, although I fear you must sacrifice your beau- 
tiful social idea, you need not sacrifice your beautiful 
architectural conception as well. Nor will you alto- 
gether lose your spiritual idea; for the exquisite little 
chapel will still stand as a fountain of Divine Grace 
in the midst of this lovely valley, testifying to the sur- 
rounding neighbourhood the one great Truth of the 
universe, and daily celebrating the commemoration of 
the One great Sacrifice." 

And thus endeavouring to reconcile his son to the 
bitter yet (as it seemed to him) inevitable disappoint- 
ment, Luke Forrester walked slowly back to the hall. 

But although Mr. Forrester succeeded in convincing 
Claude that it was the right thing for the monastery 
to be given up, he did not succeed in comforting the 
young man for the loss of the same. That duty was 
reserved for even a tenderer hand than his. 

For a few days poor Claude was in the depths of 
depression. Even the return of his father could not 
altogether make up for the loss of his day-dream, which 
seemed now doubly hard to bear after it had already 
been taken away from him and restored again. To lose 
anything for the second time is always harder to bear 
than it was at the first ; the blasting of a revivified hope 
seems crueller than the destruction of the original one. 
For the first time in his life, however, Claude did not 
turn for consolation to the idealised thought of his 
mother, or indulge in imaginings — as he usually did 
when disappointed and unhappy — of how she would 

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have understood and comforted him had she been here. 
Instead of that he went to Dagmar, and poured out 
his bitter disappointment into her sympathetic ears; 
and in no way did she fall short of his needs and 

**I think it is perfectly maddening for a beautiful 
building like that to be thrown away upon a lot of 
stupid old women ! " she remarked, after they had gone 
over the ground for about the fiftieth time. 

** Single women over sixty ! Just think of it ! ^' 
groaned Claude. 

" I know. As if it could matter to anybody as old 
as that where they lived or what they did!" added 

** That is just the irony of the whole thing. All that 
natural and architectural beauty is to be thrown away 
upon people who are far too old to have any sense of 
enjoyment or appreciation of beauty left!" And 
Claude laughed aloud at the absurdity of his late step- 
mother's arrangement. 

Dagmar laughed too. Thoroughly to understand the 
humour of a situation people must be pretty much of 
the same age. The absurdity of expecting elderly peo- 
ple to enjoy themselves would have been utterly lost 
upon Mr. Forrester and his late wife; but these latter 
would have descried a certain unconscious humour in 
Claude and Dagmar's criticisms nevertheless. 

" I expect they'll all be blind and deaf," continued 
Dagmar, " and so will never see the beauty of the 
chapel or the view, or hear the music of the stream and 
the chapel-bell. But I suppose you'll go on making 

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it just as beautiful as if it was for young people who 
could appreciate it? " 

^^Of course I shall, Dagmar. I am making it as 
beautiful as I possibly can because it is God's House» 
and my work upon it is an offering to Him.'* 

^^ I see. And so when you have once given it to Him^ 
it is no business of yours whether He uses it for young 
men or for old women. Your gift is the same whatever 
He chooses to do with it afterwards. In fact, I think 
it adds to the beauty of your gift if it is used for a 
useless purpose — ^like the woman with the alabaster box 
of ointment, don't you know? which was better than if 
it had been sold for three hundred pence and given to 
the poor." 

Dagmar certainly was a past mistress in the art of 
consolation, if not in the use of language. 

Claude cheered up visibly. ** Yes, yes ; that is a very 
comforting idea to me. I am glad you have reminded 
me of the alabaster box of ointment, Dagmar. It was 
because the Master accepted the gift that it was ap- 
parently wasted — ^not because He refused it." 

" Of course it was. And I wonder that had not 
struck you before, because it was the sort of thing to 
appeal to you more than to me. You can understand 
David pouring out before the Lord the water which the 
mighty men had brought from the well at Bethlehem; 
but to me it always seems the most irritating thing he 
could have done, just when they'd put themselves out 
so to get it for him." 

^^ I can quite understand his doing it;" Claude 

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" I know you can ; and I can't. But that ought to 
make you glad that your monastery is being treated 
in exactly the same way.** 

** Thank you, Dagmar. Now that I look at it in 
this light I feel I can bearvit. It is my alabaster box 
of ointment — ^my water from the well of Bethlehem — 
and I freely pour it out at the Master's Feet.** 

Thus Dagmar succeeded in comforting Claude. And 
it was significant that both young people regarded the 
money and time and trouble spent on the erection of 
almshouses for old women, as " wasted.** Such are the 
limitations of youth ! 

" And then,** she went on after a while, " when people 
see how beautiful the almshouse is, and how splendidly 
you have designed it, they*ll discover what a magnificent 
architect you are ; and I daresay in the end you'll have 
dozens of monasteries to build, to say nothing of 
churches and chapels.** 

This also was a comforting view of the matter. 
** Then you think that the idea of the monastery may 
come true even yet, Dagmar, in some other place and 
at some future time? ** Claude asked. 

" I am positively certain of it. You'll have to write 
articles about it in religious papers and magazines and 
things, and get people to take it up. And when they 
come and see the building here, do you suppose they'll 
be content to let a lot of stupid old women have the 
monopoly of anything so perfectly lovely? Not they! 
They'll start the monastery idea somewhere else and get 
you to build it for them. I'll bet you anything you 
like that they will ! Because, you know, even Mr. For- 

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Tester admits that it is a better idea than the ahnshouse, 
if only Aunt Charlotte hadn^t been so keen on old 
women before she died; and all the world isn't in love 
with old women, as Aunt Charlotte seems to have been ! " 

The two were walking along the old high road, as 
they had so often walked together in time past; but 
to-day there was somehow a difference. Dagmar could 
not exactly define what it was; in fact she did not 
attempt to do so; as — despite her excessively modem 
attitude of mind — she was not an analytical young 
person ; but she understood it sufficiently to know that 
it was the sort of thing that made silence uncomforta- 
ble, and so she forthwith went on talking. 

" Isn't this a dear old road? " she said, being " grav- 
elled for lack of matter." " I never get tired of it, 
though I have walked along it such thousands of times ; 
and there is always a feeling of excitement when you 
get to a turn, although you really know as well as 
possible what you will see when you have passed it. 
But that is why a road is always fascinating, I think — 
much more fascinating than a wood or a moor or a 
meadow ; you never know what is coming next, and even 
if you do, you feel as if you don't, which is almost as 
good in the long run. My idea of happiness is to go on 
walking for ever in bright frosty weather along a wide 
high road, with something nice at the end of it, and 
somebody equally nice to keep you company." 

Then she paused to take breath, and Claude seized 
the opportunity. " I say, Dagmar, you have been 
awfully decent to me all through this monastery busi- 
ness ; I don't know whatever I should have done without 

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you. And I want you to promise that you'll always 
stick to me and walk by my side, wherever the road may 
lead to." Claude no longer discoursed in fine sentences 
and finished periods. At this particular crisis his 
vocabulary was as limited as a schoolboy's, "Well, 
will you, dear? I want you so dreadfully." 

Dagmar's eyes shone like stars. " Do you really 
want me, Claude? Really and truly? " 

"I should just think I do! Why, I don't believe I 
shall ever do anything really great unless I've got you 
to help me and encourage me and sympathise with me ; 
but if I've got that, I'm sure that in time I shall rise 
to really high things in my profession, and give you 
good reason to be proud of me and my work." It was 
characteristic of Claude that even then he thought of 
his work and of what Dagmar would be to it rather 
than what she would be to him. And it was character- 
istic also of Dagmar that she accepted the position 
without a murmur, and took exactly what he was pre- 
pared to give, asking neither more nor less; wherein 
she once again showed herself a true daughter of the 
Midlands, and the type of woman that men find it easy 
to live with. The continual striving after an impossible 
ideal may lend beauty to single life, but it is by no 
means one of the ingredients of connubial happiness. 
Divine discontent may be a valuable assistant to a 
solitary player in the game of life, but it is a most 
unsatisfactory equipment for " a twosome." 

" Darling, won't you marry me," Claude went on, 
** and let us never do anything by ourselves any more, 
but everything together? Oh! Dagmar, dear, do come 

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to me, and let us walk the rest of the way side by 

And of course Dagmar came. 

Thus Claude found comfort at last for the destruc- 
tion of his day-dream ; and, with the glorious hopeful- 
ness of youth, built still finer and fairer abbeys and 
cathedrals in the air, which he felt no doubt he should 
transmute into solid masonry before many years were 
over. For he was still on that siumy side of thirty 
when all things are possible to us, and when we feel 
that we have time enough and strength enough to 
accomphsh anything we choose. 

And Dagmar was abundantly happy in his love, and 
content to take the second place in his life, realising 
that he was sufficient of an artist for his art always to 
come first. She had too much of the true Midland 
spirit in her — the spirit of the happy mean and the 
middle way — ^to sigh after ideal perfection. Therefore 
she was content to take the best that she could get^ 
which is the most that any of us will attain in this world* 

There was a little difficulty at first as to who waa 
really the vicar of Dinglewood now that Mr. Forrester 
had come back again; but the Bishop of Merchester 
solved this difficulty by presenting to Theophilus Sprott 
the incumbency of a large church in the Black Country^ 
where he would have more work — and considerably more 
pay — ^than he had enjoyed at Dinglewood; and where 
he would also find that larger scope for which his soul 
had always craved. 

"You will doubtless be pleased to escape from the 
aristocratic stagnation of the country into the vigor- 

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OU8 activity of a large town," said Mrs. Higginson, 
who had met Theophilus in the village and stopped to 
congratulate him upon his new appointment. " My 
dear papa, the doctor, used so often to say, * There is 
more life in the town than in the country, because there 
are more people ' ; and I have so often realised the truth 
of this since I came to live in the country myself." 

"On the contrary," replied Theophilus, "the 
thought of all the worry and bustle of a manufacturing 
town chills my very blood. I hate the whirl and press- 
ure of middle-class activity, and always shall; but I 
have no alternative but to accept this living now that 
the Bishop has seen fit to oflFer it to me. To tell the 
truth, Mrs. Higginson, I feel that I have been very 
badly treated — shelved, in fact, to make way for my 
predecessor to step into his old shoes." 

" Oh ! I imagined that you would be pleased," mur- 
mured Mrs. Higginson feebly. 

But Theophilus met her with fine scorn. " Pleased, 
Mrs. Higginson? Is any man pleased to have the 
bread taken out of his very mouth to be given to 
another? I was vicar of Dinglewood, and had been so 
for the past year and more. Yet just because Mr. 
Forrester was not drowned when everybody imagined 
him to be, I am turned out of hearth and home in order 
that he may enjoy once more a position which to all 
intents and purposes he had forfeited." 

** But surely you need not have accepted this new 
living if you had not wished to do so ; and then I think 
the dear Bishop could hardly have turned you adrift. 
Besides, Mr. Forrester himself is quite a gentleman. 

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and could hardly have taken the living of Dinglewood 
again into his own possession unless you had voluntarily 
resigned it." 

Theophilus laughed bitterly. " Oh ! yes ; they knew 
their business well enough to lay a neat trap for me, 
and to make it appear to the outside world that I acted 
on my own inclination. Do you suppose that a man 
in my position could afford to offend his Bishop by 
refusing a living that his lordship offered to him? Cer- 
tainly not. But that is the way in which the great 
ones of the earth trample upon their poorer brethren* 
I had no option but to do as the Bishop dictated to me ; 
and to tie myself down in the midst of a commercial 
and low-bom population, on whom my natural gifta 
and acquired accomplishments will be alike thrown 

"It would certainly have been a mistake to offend 
the dear Bishop," said Mrs. Higginson. " In fact, I 
think it is always a mistake to offend those who are 
in a higher social position than ourselves. They so 
often can be of use to us ; and, even if they cannot, it 
is always pleasant to be on bowing terms with them, 
and seems to confer a distinction and dignity upon 

"Yes, it would have been a mistake to offend the 
Bishop. His lordship and Mr. Forrester knew that 
well enough. They had me in a cleft stick. But I 
ought to have known better than to expect anything 
different, since misfortune and ill-luck have dogged my 
footsteps ever since I was bom. It is time I made up 
my mind to it, and realised that bittemess is to be my 

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portion all the days of my life; but it is hard to give 
up hope, even when one is turned forty, and particularly 
when one sees that one's ill-luck is in no way one's own 
fault, but is all the doing of some malignant and adverse 
power. If I felt that I deserved misfortune, I should 
submit to it more gracefully ; but as it is, I admit that 
I rebel/' 

And so Theophilus continued to grumble after his 
kind, and would so continue till the end of the chapter, 
human nature not being alterable by circumstances. 
We are all very fond of saying, " If this " and " If the 
other," we should be saints and angels and the like, 
forgetting that there is no such word as " if " in the 
Tocabulary of Heaven. He who is discontented will be 
-discontented still, though fate and fortune lavish their 
gifts at his feet; while he who is righteous will be 
righteous still, though the powers of darkness array 
themselves against him. 

And here we will drop the curtain upon the common- 
place drama of Dinglewood. Our characters were not 
saints or heroes at the beginning, and they are not 
saints or heroes at the close; but just ordinary middle- 
class men and women, living in an ordinary Midland 
village, and striving — according to their lights — ^to do 
iheir several duties in the various states of life to which 
they have been called. 

Claude and Dagmar are happy in the prospect of 
the future — ^Luke Forrester is peaceful in the contem- 
plation of the past. Mrs. Peppercorn and Mr. and 
Mrs. Sprott continue to pursue their daily avocations 
with a cheerful courage; while Theophilus and Mrs. 

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Mawer and Miss Skinner enjoy their own especial griev- 
ances in their own particular way, Octavius Rainbrow 
is fast making his mark in the world of journalism, and 
Mr. Duncan is living again in his nephew's career. 
Here we leave them all as we found them — none absent 
except Charlotte Fallowfield and Amelia Tovey. They 
two are fulfilling life's purposes and serving their Maker 
in other and wider spheres, and so are the happiest and 
most blessed of all. 

In the centre of Dinglewood Park — ^not far from the 
old Roman road — ^there stands a house of rest for weary 
pilgrims, where they may take their ease for a little 
while before they pass onwards, across the river, to the 
land which is no longer so very far off. Nature and art 
have combined to render this spot beautiful exceedingly, 
so as to make it a fitter preparation for those glories 
which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, and yet which 
the pilgrims are now so nearly approaching. The life 
in this house of rest is conventual in its mysticism, reg- 
ularity, and peace ; but the inmates are hampered by no 
dedications and by no vows ; it is fashioned upon the life 
at Little Gidding in the seventeenth century, and has 
all the peace and holiness of a convent without its aus- 
terity. Here the weary travellers tarry for awhile, 
when it is towards evening with them, and their day is 
far spent ; and here they find light at eventide, for their 
conversation is chiefly concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a 
Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all 
the people. There are certain women of their company 
who in their time have seen visions of angels ; and these 
cheer their companions, with stories of all that their 

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Lord has done for them, and how that He is risen 

There this band of godly women all wait imtil it is 
time for them too, one by one, to go up to Jerusalem. 
In the fair refectory, as they sit at meat, they com- 
mune one with another as to all the wonderful things 
that have happened to them by the way, and of how 
all these things worked together for their good, because 
One drew near and walked with them, though at the 
time their eyes were holden that they should not know 
Him. And in the beautiful little chapel dedicated to 
Saint Mary of Bethany, where everything tends to 
symbolise the fact that there are some women called to 
forego the common lot of domestic toil and happiness, 
and to choose the better part of self-sacrifice and self- 
abnegation, these tired souls find still greater rest and 
refreshment ; for here His ministers expound to them in 
all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself, and 
here the Master is made known to them in breaking of 


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